04/09/2003 12:00AM

Norman sprint aces figure tough


Trainer Cole Norman has all his bases covered with his best sprinters this week. While the star of his stable, Beau's Town, was the likely favorite in Thursday's Count Fleet Sprint at Oaklawn, Norman had more than enough firepower left to turn Friday's feature race at Lone Star Park, in Grand Prairie, Texas, into a private duel between That Tat and Joyful Tune.

The $42,000 open allowance race at 5 1/2 furlongs, named the Arlington, attracted a field of five, some of whom may be using the race as a prep for the $75,000 Ford Express Stakes May 3 or the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint May 26.

Joyful Tune, a 5-year-old, seems the better of the two Norman entrants. First or second in 15 of his 18 career starts, Joyful Tune has treated Lone Star as his own personal playground. He has won five times from seven starts at Lone Star, finishing second in the other two. He also possesses the highest career Beyer Speed Figures among Friday's entrants, including a 109 earned in an off-the-turf allowance race going five furlongs here last year.

Joyful Tune made his 2003 debut at Delta Downs three weeks ago in an open allowance race at five furlongs. He won by 1 1/2 lengths and earned a 93 Beyer, unspectacular by his standards.

Gerard Melancon will ride Joyful Tune for the second time. He last teamed up with Joyful Tune for a track-record performance in a five-furlong optional claiming race at Louisiana Downs last fall.

That Tat, who has earned a 101 Beyer in four consecutive races, is hardly a pushover for his stablemate. Like Joyful Tune, That Tat won his only start this year, an optional claiming race at Oaklawn over the stakes veteran Chindi. That Tat finished first or second in 10 of his 12 starts in 2002, closing out the year with a victory in the Folklore Handicap and second-place finishes in the Silver Bullet and Island Whirl Stakes.

Eddie Martin Jr., the early leader in the jockey standings, will ride That Tat.

G.W.'s Deputy and Zarb's Luck appear to have the best chance of springing an upset. G.W.'s Deputy won four times at the recently concluded Fair Grounds meet. He was beaten four lengths following a poor break in his only stakes appearance. Zarb's Luck won the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint at Fair Grounds in December, but has not fared well in his last four starts against open company.