03/04/2004 12:00AM

No 'Rocket' to stop Sling Shot this time

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Sling Shot last raced in a restricted stakes, but still looks like the choice against open company Saturday night in the $30,000 Texas Heritage for 3-year-olds at Sam Houston Race Park.

The one-mile race drew a competitive field of 12, including Goosey Moose, who has been working sharply; Foxtrot Oscar, who makes his two-turn debut following a runner-up finish in the $30,000 Bucharest; and the promising Hawkish.

Sling Shot is an improving colt. He last raced Feb. 14, and finished second by a neck in a 1 1/16-mile division of the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Sam Houston. Prior to that race, Sling Shot finished third, beaten 10 lengths, in the one-mile division of the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes on Dec. 27.

Both races were restricted to the offspring of nominated stallions, and both were won by There Goes Rocket. Last year, There Goes Rocket was the champion 2-year-old colt in Texas. He is scheduled to make his next start in the $200,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn.

Sling Shot earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure in his most recent start, the highest last-race number among all starters in the Texas Heritage. Ted Gondron has the mount on Sling Shot, a son of Valid Expectations, for Stonerside Stable and trainer Michael Stidham.

Foxtrot Oscar exits the Bucharest, an open company stakes in which he finished second by a length to Jimmy Cracked Corn. He will stretch out to two turns for the first time, and given that he has rallied strongly in each of his last two starts, he might like the additional ground. He is trained by William Welch.