11/14/2002 1:00AM

Layoffs issue for Coastalota and Lights on Broadway


Lights on Broadway and Coastalota must both overcome layoffs while defending their titles in the two richest stakes for statebreds Saturday night during the Texas Champions Day program at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.

The card features eight stakes for statebreds and one for open company, the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile.

Lights on Broadway is looking for his third consecutive win in the $100,000 Star of Texas on Saturday, while Coastalota is trying for her second straight win in the $75,000 Martanza Handicap.

Both were freshened with an eye to these races, as well as the inaugural Great State Challenge at Sam Houston on Dec. 7.

The Star of Texas, to be run at 1 1/16 miles, drew a competitive field of nine, including Desert Darby, who in his last two starts against statebreds has won the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame and the $125,000 Assault, and Big Broken Straw, who invades from Delaware Park.

Lights on Broadway has not raced since August and will give up recent experience to all of his rivals. But, he has been working sharply for his return, and not only has a perfect record in the race, but also a strong resume on the main track at Sam Houston, where he is 3 for 4.

"I'm pretty happy with where he's at," said Bubba Cascio, who trains Lights on Broadway. "If I didn't think he was going to run a nice race, I wouldn't run him."

Cascio thinks the time off has served the horse well, saying, "He's matured quite a bit and put on some weight."

Roger Gomez has the mount on Lights on Broadway, a winner of 10 races and $408,745.

Coastalota faces nine others in the Martanza, but will be tough to handle if she is on her game. She has not lost to statebreds this year, and all four of her wins came in stakes. Coastalota has won the Martanza off a layoff before, returning from a four-month break to score by 2 1/2 lengths last year. This time, Coastalota has had more down time between starts, as she has not raced since June 29.

"I'm very confident with how she's been coming up to the race," said Randy Mayfield, who trains Coastalota. "Mentally, she's ready, and, hopefully, if she does get a little short, her class will overcome."

Bobby Walker Jr. has the mount on Coastalota, a winner of eight races and $266,098.

Dirt, more distance for Miss Ritz

Miss Ritz, a five-time stakes winner on dirt, returns to the main track in the $50,000 Yellow Rose, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares that drew a field of 11. She also picks up an extra furlong off her last race, a second-place finish in a five-furlong turf stakes on Oct. 12.

The added distance is the biggest plus, said Bob Young, who trains Miss Ritz for Ken Murphy.

"I think the distance will suit her much better than the five-eighths," said Young, who has given the mount to Gerard Melancon.

The chief threat to Miss Ritz could be Arlington allowance winner Bien Sur, or Miss Photogenic.

* When divisional leader Parting was not nominated for the $50,000 Bara Lass for 2-year-old fillies, the seven-furlong race became more wide open, with several in the field capable of winning. Among them are stakes winners Hadif's Allstar, Confiding Winner, Hannah's Royalrock, and Tiffany Jennifer.

* In the $50,000 San Jacinto for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf, Eagle Lake goes for her fourth straight win. Others in the San Jacinto include defending champ Peppy Priscilla and Nanie's Dinner, who returns to filly and mare company after finishing fourth last out against males in the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame.

* Paco Loco adds blinkers for the $50,000 Richard King Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf race that drew eight others, including D C Storm and Lightening Ball. Paco Loco returns to statebred company after finishing third last out against open company in the $30,000 Alliance Handicap.

* Action Tonight, a two-time stakes winner this summer, is out to recapture his best form in the $50,000 Groovy, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-olds. His chief opposition could be Call Me Lefty, second to Leo's Last Hurrahy last out in the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes, or Aledo Pass, a son of Editor's Note.

* In the $50,000 Spirit of Texas at six furlongs, Solingen, who was beaten a head last out in a money allowance at Keeneland, and Term Sheet, who was stakes-placed in his last start, seem like the two horses with the best chance of breaking Fitzroyal's win streak. Fitzroyal, a 3-year-old, has won stakes in each of his last two starts.