07/02/2001 11:00PM

New teammates make long-term plans


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Gerald Romero and Roman Chapa are becoming a trainer-jockey combination of note at Lone Star Park. The pair, who started to team together on a regular basis in June, won two races last week, and will look for their fourth joint win of the meet in Thursday night's sixth race with Darnaby.

"What I like about Roman is that he's a strong, aggressive, smart rider," said Romero, who added that it doesn't hurt that Chapa's agent, Mark Parker, is from his hometown of Erath, La. "The key to this game is winning races, and things are working well for us right now."

The partnership should continue to blossom. Romero plans to base his operation at Chapa's home track of Retama Park near San Antonio for the first time this fall instead of setting up shop as usual at Louisiana Downs. Romero expects to have about 28 horses at Retama Park, where Chapa won the riding title in 2000.

Darnaby is one of the leading contenders in the sixth race Thursday. He returns to racing at the distance of his last win, 1 1/16 miles on turf, after finishing third in a one-mile turf race on June 21. The chief threats to Darnaby could be Tequilla Shot, and Luck Arrives, who switches surfaces for his high-percentage turf trainer Al Stall Jr.

Date requests for 2002

Lone Star has requested 68 days of Thoroughbred racing next year, six fewer dates than the 74 the track is racing this meet, which runs through July 15. The track has asked to start next year's meet on April 11 and race through July 14. Lone Star also requested 32 days of Quarter Horse racing from Oct. 4 to Nov. 30. The requests will be considered by the Texas Racing Commission at its next meeting on Aug. 9.

In other dates requests, Sam Houston Race Park in Houston has asked for a 56-day Thoroughbred meet from Jan. 1 to April 6, and a 28-day Thoroughbred season from Nov. 1 to Dec. 28. The track has also asked for a 44-day Quarter Horse meet from June 28 to Sept. 8. Retama Park has asked for a 51-day Thoroughbred meet from Aug. 2 to Oct. 26, and a 31-day mixed meet from April 26 to June 30.

Austin Jockey Club in Austin, and Saddle Brook Park in Amarillo, two proposed tracks that have yet to be constructed, have asked for short meets next year. Austin Jockey Club requested six Quarter Horse dates from Dec. 6 to Dec. 15, while Saddle Brook wants to run eight mixed days from Oct. 12 to Nov. 3. Manor Downs in Austin has asked for 14 days of Quarter Horse racing from Feb. 23 to April 7, and 14 days of Thoroughbred racing from April 27 to June 9.

* Nanie's Dinner, who romped by seven lengths in the $100,000 Allen Bogan Memorial last Saturday at Lone Star, will be pointed for several stakes at Louisiana Downs, said trainer Larry Robideaux Jr. First up is the $40,000 Honeymoon on July 14, with the ultimate goal the track's $150,000 River Cities Breeders' Cup on Sept. 15.

* Clooney, who in his last start set a track record for seven furlongs when he won a $20,000 claiming race in 1:20.98, stretches back out to a mile in the seventh race Thursday for trainer Cole Norman.