08/08/2005 11:00PM

It gets better and better for Jacinto


Jockey John Jacinto compiled quite a past performance line last weekend at Louisiana Downs. He won nine races between Saturday and Sunday, and the combined winning margin of his mounts was 52 3/4 lengths.

The decisive nature of the wins seems to parallel the tone of Jacinto's meet, as he leads all riders with 86 wins, 15 more than second-leading rider Guy Smith.

Jacinto came to North America from Peru in 2000, and has already won over 700 races in this country. His first North American score came at Louisiana Downs in October 2000. From there, Jacinto's ascent started. He won the Sam Houston Race Park title in 2002, then finished second in the Louisiana Downs standings in 2004.

"Last year I was riding for Cole [Norman] first call, and that helped me out a lot," said Jacinto.

Other trainers saw Jacinto ride Norman's horses. As a result, Jacinto said, "they could really see the way that I ride, and I got opportunities."

And he made the most of them. Jacinto, 29, had the best year of his career last year, winning 204 races and $2.7 million in earnings. This year, he has already won 136 races and $2.3 million, and even rode the graded stakes winner Happy Ticket in her first start of the year, which came in May in the $50,000 Suthern Accent at Louisiana Downs.

"She's an awesome filly," said Jacinto. "She's such a nice horse and I'm really happy to ride her one time and win a stakes. She's one of the best horses I've ridden so far."

Jacinto began his career in 1997 in Peru, where he won a major stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Last month, he joined fellow Peruvian natives Rafael Bejarano, Jorge Chavez, and Edgar Prado in a fund-raiser at River Downs for the Jockey School of Peru.

Jacinto's big local weekend included five wins Saturday, one of which was a 10-length score with Alex's Allure in the $50,000 Senorita Stakes. Jacinto also guided Gettarman to a 19-length win in the fourth race Sunday.

Premier Dance to Minstrel

Fresh from winning the $40,000 Blue Skies last Sunday with Majestic Thief, owner Charles Fletcher and trainer Cody Autrey said they plan to start Premier Dance in the $50,000 Minstrel on Saturday.

Premier Dance closed out the Lone Star Park season last month with a win in the $75,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup. Following the Lone Star meet, Autrey moved a 25-horse stable into Louisiana Downs. Premier Dance, who was a private purchase in June, is among his top horses.

"He's come back off the race really good," said Autrey. "He hasn't missed an oat."

Premier Dance is an attractive son of Premiership bred in Florida by Franks Farms. He is also versatile, and that should serve him well in the Minstrel.

"I think he's got a lot of natural speed, but he's very kind," said Autrey. "You can do whatever you want to with him. He can be on the lead or off the lead."

Luis Quinonez has the mount Saturday.

Same schedule for 2006?

The early word is that Louisiana Downs's calendar next year could look a lot like this year's 93-date meet, which opened April 29 and runs through Oct. 9. The opening was the earliest at the track since 1996.

"We've met with our horsemen, and so far the indication I get from them is that they're very pleased with this racing schedule and would like to see it continue," said Ray Tromba, vice president of racing operations at Louisiana Downs, late last week. "So that's probably the direction we'll head in. We haven't made that determination hard and fast, but were certainly looking at the same format."

Date submissions for next year's Thoroughbred meet are due by Aug. 15, according to Charles Gardiner, executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission.

Another bullet for Happy Ticket

Happy Ticket continues to put in strong works in preparation for the Grade 1, $250,000 Ballerina at Saratoga on Aug. 28. She breezed five furlongs over a track rated good in 59.60 seconds Sunday, the fastest of 65 works at the distance at Louisiana Downs. Also on the tab, stakes winner Enduring Will went three furlongs in 37.20 in her first drill since March, and Mykindasaint, winner of the $75,000 Cassidy for 2-year-old fillies at Calder, went five furlongs in 1:02.60.

* Katestormedthebird looks like a top contender in the featured ninth race, a six-furlong allowance for fillies and mares who have never won four races. She returned from a six-week freshening in her last start July 4 and finished second at six furlongs in a race that went in a quick 1:09.60.

* Love the Beach, an 11 1/2-length winner of a maiden race for Norman on July 8, is entered against the stakes-placed Slewpy's Star in the fifth race, a nonwinners-of-two allowance for 2-year-old fillies. Slewpy's Star is a half-sister to Slewpy's Storm, recent winner of the $50,000 Delicada.