07/26/2005 11:00PM

Norman magic sparks Royal Saint


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Royal Saint, who has made great progress since coming under the care of leading trainer Cole Norman, will attempt to take another step through his conditions in Friday's third-level allowance headliner. The race will be run at a mile and 70 yards and drew a field of 10.

Norman has made a habit of turning around horses he inherits from the East Coast, but Royal Saint has shown perhaps the greatest improvement. Beaten 31 1/2 lengths in his debut at Delaware last fall, when he went off at 5-2, Royal Saint took the winter off before resurfacing in a maiden special weight affair here in May. Off again at 5-2, Royal Saint made short work of 11 rivals, winning by over six lengths.

In his next start, an entry-level allowance sprint June 12, Royal Saint had to work a little harder but proved a game winner over Venomous. Venomous flattered Royal Saint with an impressive second-level allowance victory in his next start.

Norman had entered Royal Saint in a seven-furlong race two weeks ago, as part of an entry with Skin Flint, but Royal Saint was scratched. The reason became apparent after Skin Flint came close to breaking the track record for the distance, set in 1984. While Royal Saint may not be in a position to flirt with track records Friday, he still rates very strongly. Guy Smith, aboard for the two previous wins here, will ride again.

He's Royal Dee, a troubled fourth in the Bossier City Handicap on the turf in his last start, appears to be the main obstacle to Royal Saint. Trainer Pat Mouton moves He's Royal Dee back to the main track, the surface that produced a solid win here May 22. He's Royal Dee has a powerful late kick when he fires, and should someone soften Royal Saint on the front end, the stage could be set for another one of He's Royal Dee's late rallies. Don Simington has the call.

Extra Exclusive, second to Skin Flint on July 16, also merits consideration Friday. Extra Exclusive will be trying two turns on the main track for the first time since finishing fifth in the Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn in April. Lonnie Meche will be in the saddle.