09/04/2001 11:00PM

It's on to graded stakes for French Assault


French Assault and Victory Road will both advance to graded stakes for their next starts after winning the $100,000 El Joven and $100,000 La Senorita last Saturday night at Retama Park near San Antonio. The one-mile races, which are among the nation's first two-turn stakes of the year for 2-year-olds, were taken off the turf because of wet weather. The races highlight the meet at Retama.

French Assault, an 11 3/4-length winner of the El Joven, will run next in one of three stakes: the Grade 3 $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park on Sept. 22; the Grade 2 $150,000 Arlington Washington Futurity at Arlington Park on Sept. 29; or the Grade 2 $400,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 6.

"Depending how he runs [next], the Breeders' Cup is our long-range goal," said Keith Desormeaux, who trains French Assault. "This horse has got some untapped ability. We're excited about him."

Victory Road, who won the La Senorita by a length, is being pointed for the Grade 2 $400,000 Walmac International Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 5. "I think she's a lot better filly than her race shows," said trainer Gerald Romero, who has won nine races from 20 starters in his first season at Retama. "She was in trouble a lot of the race. She's 3 for 5 right now. She's very accomplished for a 2-year-old."

Hail to Bag boosts Hebert's spirits

Trainer Doris Hebert, who recently spent the past month in the hospital for stomach problems and to have his gall bladder removed, said his spirits were lifted Monday when his horse, Hail to Bag, won the $50,000 Lafayette at Evangeline Downs to remain perfect in four career starts.

"It made me get a little stronger," said Hebert, 60. "I had a rough 30 days in the hospital, but things are starting to pick up."

Hebert expects to return to work in two weeks, and said Hail to Bag would likely start next in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile at Fair Grounds on Dec. 8.

Guillory the businessman

David Guillory does not just ride horses for a living anymore. Guillory, whose wife, Kristina, recently took over ownership of Stemmans Tack at Louisiana Downs, has found himself fielding orders for the shop during training hours. "I'll be on a horse and people will ask me 'Do you have this in the store, and can you bring me one?' " Guillory said.

Don Stemmans owned the tack store, a Louisiana Downs institution, for the past 14 years. He sold the business to the Guillorys this spring in order to spend more time with his wife, who has cancer. Stemmans will continue to own his main tack shop, which is located near Evangeline Downs.

* Hallowed Dreams, who displayed symptoms of heat stroke after her third-place finish in the $50,000 Monique Rene Handicap on Aug. 26, returned to the track for the first time since the race Tuesday. "She had a light gallop," said Selina Bremermann, assistant to trainer Lloyd Romero.

* Retama Park has handled an average of $1,125,862 a night on its live races during the first month of its meet, a 21 percent increase over the same period last year. "Most of our increase is due to our same outlets betting a lot more on us this year," said Retama chief executive officer Bryan Brown. Ontrack attendance is up 10 percent at the meet to 4,020.

* Apprentice jockey Ray Danylchuk won his first career race Aug. 25 at Retama with a mount he picked up during the card, Zigfire.

* Remington Park, which drew a meet-best crowd of 7,396 on Monday, will add Thursdays to its schedule starting Sept. 13.