11/26/2002 1:00AM

McIngvale content to stay in background


Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale, whose Truckle Feature could go favored in the inaugural running of the $275,000 Great State Challenge Juvenile at Sam Houston Race Park on Dec. 7, is taking a more laid back approach to racing these days.

McIngvale, known for an aggressive, hands-on style of ownership in the past, has chosen to sit chilly of late and put his stable's future in the hands of people like trainer Bob Baffert and bloodstock agents J.B. and Kevin McKathan.

"I hope the horse comes," McIngvale said of Truckle Feature. "Bob makes those decisions. I used to try to get involved in horse racing. Now, the McKathans buy them and Bob trains, and with their expertise, I'm just riding the wave."

McIngvale, who owns Gallery Furniture in Houston, still has the same goal he had in 1996, when he splashed onto the scene by spending $4 million on yearlings: He wants to win the Kentucky Derby.

And one of his hopes for the future is Truckle Feature, who in his last two starts has run third in both the Grade 1 Futurity at Belmont and Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

"He's the second best 2-year-old I've got behind Bull Market," said McIngvale.

Bull Market, one of 20 juveniles owned by McIngvale, ran fourth in the Breeders' Cup in his last start, but has been sidelined with a knee chip and will be back in the spring. That puts the spotlight on Truckle Feature, a son of stakes winners Saint Ballado and Magic Gleam.

He is expected to be part of a full field in the Juvenile, one of six divisional races matching statebreds from around the country. Each race is worth up to $275,000, and the state whose horses perform best in the races will be declared the Great State Challenge Champion.

McIngvale is one of four Texas-based owners with horses expected to start in the Juvenile. Others are Bill Heiligbrodt, who owns Kentucky-bred Posse; Bob and Janice McNair, who own Texas-bred Catalissa; and George Wolff, who owns Texas-bred Action Tonight.

Comic Truth to Delta Jackpot

Comic Truth earned a free berth in the $500,000 Delta Jackpot at a mile at Delta Downs on Dec. 21 for his Sunday night win in the track's $75,000 Jean Lafitte. The seven-furlong race for 2-year-olds was held around two turns.

"That was his first time around two turns, and it didn't seem to bother him at all," said Cole Norman, who trains Comic Truth.

Tulupai to richer Delta Princess

Tulupai, who won her third consecutive stakes race Sunday when she captured the $30,000 Cimarron at Remington Park, will make her next start in the Delta Princess at Delta Downs on Dec. 20. The one-mile race for 2-year-old fillies has been boosted in value from $100,000 to $250,000.

Tulupai will be making her first two-turn start in the Delta Princess.

"I think she'll love two turns the way she started to pull away at 6 1/2 [furlongs] last time," said Wilson Brown, who co-owns and trains Tulupai. "She ran a bang-up race, and came back bouncing."

By increasing the purse for the Delta Princess, officials hope to give horsemen a second reason to come to Vinton, La., which is located about two hours east of Houston, for the weekend of the Delta Jackpot.

* With the Remington meet set to close on Dec. 15, a week earlier than scheduled, the $50,000 Governor's Cup for older horses Dec. 21 has been canceled. In its place, the track will put on an overnight handicap for older horses at 1 1/16 miles. The $18,500 Tip Tap will be run Dec. 13.