07/08/2008 11:00PM

Mouton barn getting back in gear


BOSSIER CITY, La. - There were signs that a sleeping giant may be waking up this past weekend, as trainer Pat Mouton sent out three winners Sunday at Louisiana Downs. Mouton also had a winner on Friday night's Louisiana Legends Night program at Evangeline Downs when Howdy Ho set a track record for five furlongs in the $50,000 Attaway Darbonne Stakes.

"The guys at the barn were getting a little down, a little disappointed the last couple of weeks," Mouton said. "I just told them to hang in there, things will pick back up. Nothing like a three-bagger for morale."

Sunday's big day moved Mouton into a second-place tie with Jerry Cart in the trainer standings. Their 11 wins trail defending champion Jorge Lara's 15 victories with almost a third of the 85-day meeting in the books.

Mouton said that Howdy Ho's big effort was a little surprising, even to him.

"We knew the colt was doing well going in and that he would run good, just not that good."

Howdy Ho quickly got clear after the start in the five-furlong race under veteran rider Kerwin "Boo Boo" Clark and laid down fractions of 21.83 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.65 for the half-mile. With Clark along for little more than a ride down the lane, Howdy Ho, a 4-year-old Pulling Punches gelding, expanded his margin to almost 11 lengths at the wire in a time of 56.75 seconds, lowering the track standard by a fifth of a second.

Mouton claimed Howdy Ho during the final week of the Fair Grounds meeting in March of this year for $12,500 for owner H. Dunham Leighton, Jr. They won a first-level allowance at Evangeline Downs by an impressive eight lengths with him in his next start before an unplaced effort in the Big Earl Stakes here at Louisiana Downs.

"He had some issues going into that stake that we took care of," Mouton said. "Right now he is doing great."

Mouton went on to say that plans are to keep Howdy Ho in the statebred stakes ranks.

"We are going to nominate him to the Champions Sprint here at Louisiana Downs next month. I'm sure he'll hook some runners in there but it would have taken a darn good one to outrun him the other night."

Friday post time changed

Post time on Friday will return to 1:25 p.m. after five weeks of twilight action that got under way at 3:10 p.m.

"We experimented with the 3 p.m. post time," said the track's vice president of racing operations, Mark Midland. "Ultimately, our fans prefer the earlier post time, and the business trends reflect that."