08/28/2001 11:00PM

Louisiana Downs

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A steady diet of short fields, the powerful stable of Cole Norman, and the season-long roll that Kirk LeBlanc has been on has chalk players getting fat at the midway point of the meeting at Louisiana Downs.

The public choices have been winning at a 40 percent clip during the first 40 days of the season. Norman has been responsible for many, as the three-time defending champ is well on his way to another title. The barn has won 49 races from 136 starters for a remarkable 36 percent.

Another 52 of his runners have finished either second or third for a 75 in-the-money percentage. Norman's success has been reflected on the tote board as well as his average winner has paid less than 8-5.

Anthony Lovato, the leading rider here last year, has been on board for most of Norman's winners. The two have teamed up in the winner's circle over 30 times with the average winner paying less than $5.