10/31/2001 12:00AM

Norman sets sights on Oaklawn


Cole Norman, the nation's third leading trainer by wins, last week set a new standard for victories in a season at Louisiana Downs. But he will slow down markedly after the current meet ends Nov. 11 - just as he did last year. Norman plans to make a limited number of starts with his stable for the remainder of the year in order to refresh his barn for the meet at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., which opens Jan. 25.

"Some will remain in training at Louisiana Downs, and some will be turned out," said Norman. "We'll go to Oaklawn on Jan. 1."

The break that Norman gave his stable last year paid dividends. He has won races at a 33-percent rate all year, and to date his starters have earned $4 million in purses. He won the training title at Oaklawn Park and finished second in the standings at Lone Star Park near Dallas. Later this month, he will earn his fourth consecutive title at Louisiana Downs, where he has won 13 stakes this meet.

Last Saturday, Norman set a record for wins at Louisiana Downs when he won his 100th race of the meet. The old record was set in 1987 by Frank Brothers. Norman said he hopes to win 107 races by the season's end.

"My next goal is to have 107, just because the number seven has always been my lucky number, and my dad's," said Norman, son of the late trainer Gene Norman.

High-percentage meet for Danaher

Outside of Norman, few trainers are having as big a meet at Louisiana Downs this season as James Danaher.

The horseman had won with seven of 12 starters entering the races Thursday, for an overall wining rate of 58 percent. And on Sunday, Danaher will send out the probable favorite in the $25,000-added Lady Razorback Futurity at Louisiana Downs.

The Lady Razorback is for 2-year-old fillies bred in Arkansas, and this season, Humble Danzig, bred, owned, and trained by Danaher, is one of the best from the state. After winning her maiden at Louisiana Downs in August, she traveled to Kentucky and finished second in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies at Turfway Park.

Following the Lady Razorback, plans call for Humble Danzig to return to Kentucky for the Grade 2, $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24. Danaher won the race two years ago with Humble Clerk, another Kentucky Cup runner-up he bred, owned, and trained.

Danaher later sold Humble Clerk, winner of last month's Grade 3 Matron Handicap, to Gary Tanaka. Bred in Arkansas, she has earned more than $500,000.

Danaher attributes his outstanding meet to good staff, and luck. He also feels the Pine Bluff, Ark., farm where he bases and trains his horses helps him remain competitive. "I've got a 1 1/8-mile training track," said Danaher. "It's in a river bottom. It's a deep sand surface, and I can leg up a horse pretty quick. I think the surface is key to what little success we've had."