08/27/2003 12:00AM

Mr Ross, local handicap star, retired

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Mr Ross, one of the top handicap horses in this region for four years, has been retired to the Edmond, Okla., farm of his owner, Don McNeill.

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel, who managed the 8-year-old gelding throughout his career, said the decision was made because, "The suspensory that he had been fighting last year reappeared. It was a good time to call it quits."

Mr Ross was given a break from racing last September after winning the Silver Bullet Centennial at Remington Park. He made his return this summer at Lone Star Park, finishing fourth in an allowance race and sixth in another in what would be his final start June 22.

Von Hemel called Mr Ross's career "nothing short of wonderful." The gelding won 18 of 44 starts and $1,091,045. Of his wins, 14 came in stakes, including the Razorback, which he won twice, the Essex, and the Fifth Season, all Grade 3 races at Oaklawn Park.

Mr Ross also finished second in the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap in 2001. His record in Hot Springs was particularly impressive, Von Hemel said. "He won a race at Oaklawn at 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7," Von Hemel added.

McNeill bred Mr Ross and named him for his high school football coach. The gelding was the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association's horse of the year for 2002.

David shoots for second El Joven

When trainer Sam David Jr. runs his 2-year-olds in the El Joven and La Senorita turf stakes at Retama Park near San Antonio, he has them ready.

Over the years, David has run two horses in the El Joven and one in the La Senorita and he has won each once. On Saturday night David has the probable favorite for this year's $100,000 Ketel One El Joven.

There Goes Rocket is undefeated in three career starts. He won a division of the $122,500 Texas Stallion Stakes in his second career start in June, and earlier this month won his two-turn and turf debut at his Louisiana Downs base.

The trainer won the inaugural running of the El Joven with Doublethebettwice. David's La Senorita win came with Sea Bloom last year.

"Our 2-year-olds are really getting cranked up about this time of year, so it's a good [series] to point to," David said. "And the races are in our backyard."

David has followed the same shipping plans with There Goes Rocket as he did with his other Retama starters. He shipped There Goes Rocket to San Antonio Tuesday.

"We brought them in [early] to familiarize them with the [surroundings]," he said. "With the young horses, it lets them settle in a little bit before a race."

There Goes Rocket, who races for owner Frank Fletcher, will be ridden by E.J. Perrodin.

Officials expect a full field for the El Joven.

Purses set at Delta

Delta Downs, which operates a slots casino and racetrack, plans to pay out $190,000 a day in purses during its 86-day Thoroughbred meet, which will run from Oct. 31 to March 27. Last year, daily purses at the meet, which ran 80 days, averaged $174,000.

Delta is still finalizing its stakes schedule, but its top races, the Delta Jackpot, which last year was worth $500,000, and the Delta Princess, which carried a purse of $250,000, will share a program for the first time this year, on Dec. 5.

Stall applications are due Sept. 12.

Maysville Slew nears $1 million

Maysville Slew is expected to start as the 122-pound highweight in the $125,000 DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup at Remington Park on Monday. A 7-year-old, Maysville Slew has earnings of $810,869.

"My goal is to get him to the million-dollar level and then retire him," said C.R. Trout, who owns and trains Maysville Slew.

Later this year, the gelding could run in the $100,000 Louisiana Downs Handicap on Sept. 21, and the River City Handicap Nov. 16.

- The featured 11th race at Louisiana Downs on Friday should produce starters for the Louisiana Downs Handicap. Among the horses in the overnight handicap at one mile on turf are One Eyed Joker, Chauffe Au Rouge, and Big Hubie.

- Jockey Lonnie Meche, who ranks third in the standings at Louisiana Downs, has appealed a seven-day suspension he received for a riding infraction Aug. 21.

- Evangeline Downs will host a classic car show on Saturday.

- Mike Burleson, director of racing for the Texas Racing Commission, will retire Sunday.