12/31/2003 12:00AM

Mr. Jester lures Chapa to Oaklawn


Roman Chapa, who is the second leading rider at Sam Houston Race Park, plans to leave his comfort zone in the next week and move his tack to Oaklawn Park.

Chapa will be riding regularly at Sam Houston through Jan. 11, and will be at Oaklawn for the first time when the meet opens Jan. 23. The reason for the move is that , a promising 3-year-old, will be at Oaklawn. Chapa was aboard Mr. Jester last month when he won the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta.

With the win, Mr. Jester became a horse to watch for the Kentucky Derby.

"I've got to try and stick close to that horse," said Chapa. "He's awesome. He's got a big heart, and he tries. He gives you everything he can, and that's why he's unbelievable.

"I sat on a horse like that a while back, but I didn't get to ride him. His name was El Amante."

earned $655,993 during his career, and, as a 3-year-old, won the Flamingo Stakes and finished second in the Illinois Derby and Tampa Bay Derby.

"I broke that horse," Chapa said of El Amante. "Mr. Jester reminds me of him. He's just different. You can tell a real good horse from a good horse. You can just tell."

Mr. Jester is a three-time stakes winner and ranked as the third-leading earner among 2-year-olds in North America in 2003. He races for Kaaren Biggs and is trained by Steve Wren.

Jerry Reites will be Chapa's agent at Oaklawn. Reites also represents the meet's defending leading jockey, Jamie Theriot. Other major stakes wins for Chapa last year included the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile, which he won with the filly America America.