04/18/2002 11:00PM

Norman beefs up via claim box

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Cole Norman has claimed more horses at Lone Star Park this meet than he has started.

Norman, who has been getting settled in after winning the recent Oaklawn title with 45 wins, has claimed six horses since the meet began April 4, and had started just two through Thursday.

Overall, 30 horses have been claimed in nine days of racing at Lone Star for receipts of $477,500.

"We've been getting organized, and now I think we'll get rolling here in the next couple of weeks," said Norman who finished second in the standings here last year while winning with 42 percent of his starters.

Norman has 36 horses on the grounds, just as he did last year, and another 48 in training at Louisiana Downs. That total will grow as he plans to continue to hit the claim box hard at Lone Star.

"We like the rule here," said Norman. "What you claim them for, you can run them back for, and there's no tax, so we're going to be in the claim box probably more than Oaklawn Park. We plan on getting some ammo for the rest of the year."

Norman, who claimed 24 horses at the Oaklawn meet, does not deal strictly with claiming stock. He has a handful of stakes horses in his barn, including Beau's Town, who is being pointed for the $75,000 Crescent Stakes here May 4; Southern Tour, on deck for the $100,000 Valid Expectations on May 27; and Unrullah Bull,who is under consideration for the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile on April 27.

Hal's Hope heads to Texas

Hal's Hope, who wired a field of Grade 1 winners last month in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, was scheduled to fly to Lone Star on Saturday for the Texas Mile. He will be shooting for his third straight win for his owner, breeder, and trainer, Harold Rose, who was traveling to Lone Star on Friday. Hal's Hope is to be ridden by Roger Velez.

According to racing officials, there are five other early probables for the April 27 Texas Mile: Irisheyesareflying, winner of the Grade 3, $100,000 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields, to be ridden by Jose Valdivia; Reba's Gold, fourth last out in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap, to be ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye; Keats; Mr. Ross; and Oak Hall.

Fappie's Notebook, second last out in the $100,000 Artax at Gulfstream Park, was under consideration for the race Friday.

Prep for Valid Expectations

Something will have to give Sunday in the featured allowance at Lone Star with four of the six starters in the field having recorded their last wins in wire-to-wire fashion. The six-furlong race for fillies and mares, which goes as the ninth, is expected to produce starters for the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes on May 27.

Secret Spender, who breaks from the rail, Little Angel, Lettuce Loose, and Quite Spender are all front-runners whose last wins came on the lead. The field is completed by stalkers Nobody's Fool and Dixie Kitten.