09/15/2005 11:00PM

Norman has three of seven sprinters in Speed Handicap


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Simply called the Speed Handicap, Sunday's feature at Louisiana Downs promises to be just that, as seven of the region's top sprinters will battle it out at six furlongs.

That Tat, one of three entered in the $40,000 Speed by leading trainer Cole Norman, has the dubious honor of starting highweight as he seeks his first win since taking the Hot Springs Handicap at Oaklawn Park in late March. A 7-year-old, That Tat is coming off a second-place finish in the Folklore Handicap last month and had another near miss in the Island Whirl Handicap in late July. Tracy Hebert, aboard for the first time in the Folklore, has the return call at 122 pounds.

Sunday's headliner will just be another chapter in a storybook year for Rodeo's Castle. A well-traveled 4-year-old, Rodeo's Castle is a five-time winner in 2005, including stakes wins here and at Lone Star. Most recently, he journeyed to Arlington Park for the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington Sprint Breeders' Cup and finished fifth after setting the pace. Rodeo's Castle will carry 120 pounds, including regular rider Jeff Burningham.

One of the most intriguing members of Sunday's cast is another one of Norman's representatives, Skin Flint. A late developer, Skin Flint won his maiden race in late May and quickly ran through his allowance conditions. He will be in receipt of eight pounds from That Tat and appears dangerous off a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure in his last start. Guy Smith will ride.

The third member of the Norman trio is Grand Bank. The winner of the Island Whirl earlier in the summer, Grand Bank did not appear to handle the sloppy going in the Folklore last month, when he finished sixth. He should be back on fast footing Sunday. Grand Bank will carry 116 pounds, and leading rider John Jacinto will be in the saddle.

Each of the three horses Norman starts will run as an individual betting interest.

Orphan Brigade will be making his local debut in the Speed and appears to be Rodeo's Castle main threat in the early going. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Orphan Brigade has recently been racing on the Remington turf but has proven remarkably consistent this year regardless of venue. Jamie Theriot has the mount at 115 pounds.