08/07/2001 12:00AM

Norman in pursuit of record


Trainer Cole Norman won a remarkable 14 races from 21 starters last week at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., and now has his sights set on breaking the track's record for wins in a season, 99, which was set by Frank Brothers in 1987.

Norman, who is on pace to secure his fourth consecutive title at Louisiana Downs, has won 27 races through the first 24 days of the current meet, an 89-day session that runs through Nov. 11. Last year the trainer won 86 races from 305 local starts, and with his stable having grown from 60 horses to 80 since then, he would seem to have the firepower needed to make a run at the record.

He does not, however, have the same amount of time as Brothers did when he had 369 starters. The record was set when Louisiana Downs raced a 125-day April-through-October season, whereas the current meet started at the end of June. "It's a shorter meet, and right now with 27 wins we've got a ways to go, but my goal is to break that record," said Norman.

Norman's typically high standards contributed to his amazing run last week. The trainer won four of the five races he had starters in last Thursday and Friday. He had three winners from four starters last Saturday, including Unrullah Bull in the $75,000 Ark-La-Tex Handicap, and last Sunday he won two races with three starters, including the $40,000 Delicada with Taffy. On Monday he closed out his raceweek with one winner from two starters, taking the nightcap with Holy Hindu.

Unrullah Bull is being pointed for the $75,000 Silver Bullet Centennial Handicap at Remington Park on Sept. 14, while Taffy could make her next start in the $50,000 Sangue Handicap at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 25.

Norman has four horses entered Thursday at Louisiana Downs.

Explosive Truth to miss Saratoga

Norman said Explosive Truth, who won the $100,000 Middleground last month at Lone Star Park, will miss the Grade 2 Saratoga Special next Wednesday, Aug. 15. The colt was to be the trainer's first starter at Saratoga.

Norman said Explosive Truth has not been training as sharply for the Saratoga Special as he was for the Middleground, and as a result will be freshened for a fall campaign.

"We're going to back off of him," said Norman. "We sure wanted to go because we thought we fit there, but he's telling us he's not ready. Right now he looks like a 2-year-old who needs a little rest."

Norman said the colt would remain in light training at Louisiana Downs.

* Louisiana Downs has asked the Louisiana Racing Commission for 88 days of racing next year from June 29 to Nov. 17, a similar calendar to the last few years. The racing commission is scheduled to award dates at a meeting next Wednesday.