01/05/2005 1:00AM

Old-timer ready for new year


Mannered will be the oldest horse to race in Texas in recent memory when he makes his 13-year-old debut, which is scheduled for Jan. 15. He is also expected to be the first to benefit from a policy change at Sam Houston Race Park.

In the past, Sam Houston had not allowed horses 13 or older to compete at the track, but effective Jan. 1, 2005, they will no longer exclude horses because of age provided they fulfill the eligibility requirements of the Texas Racing Commission. Mannered does at the present time because he won a race on March 26, 2004.

According to the rules of the Texas Racing Commission, a horse who is more than 12 years of age may not start in a race in the state unless he has won during the 12-month period preceding the race in which he is to start.

Tracks can make that rule stricter, provided they have clearance from the state commission, said John Ferrara, director of racing for the commission. Sam Houston has elected to change its policy to coincide with the state rules in Texas, according to officials with Sam Houston.

"Since I've been in Texas, I don't remember another 13-year-old racing," said Ferrara, who has spent the last 10 years in the state.

began his career at Sam Houston on Nov. 17, 1995, finishing fourth in a maiden special weight race for statebreds. He was trained by his owner and breeder, Barbara Sloan, at the time. Sloan lost Mannered through the claiming box, and after he raced at a variety of tracks and for four different owners and trainers, Sloan claimed him as a 10-year-old in April 2002.

"When I claimed him back, I didn't know if he would be able to continue to race or not," Sloan said. "I had tendon surgery done on him, rehabilitated him, and did not race him for a year and a half after claiming him. The decision to race him was totally based on his desire to do that. That's what he wants to do, and he's able to do it."

Mannered, who wired a field of $5,000 claimers last March, made his most recent start Dec. 3, finishing fourth in a claiming race at Sam Houston. He is based at Sloan's farm, a 300-acre facility in Huntsville, Texas, about an hour from Houston. Mannered is the only horse Sloan trains, and he is her most successful horse as a breeder, with 17 wins in 97 starts and earnings of $223,700.

"He's the oldest horse I've ever raced," said Sloan. "He's a character. He acts like he's 2 and he's 13. He's my baby."

Sloan said Mannered was sick with a virus when he was foaled. "I stayed with him day and night," she said.

Sloan said she will not race Mannered after he loses his desire to compete. She also said he always will have a home in Huntsville.

Sloan was a fashion photographer before getting into racing, and she has worked in New York, as well as Milan, Munich, and Madrid. She did photography work for advertisements and catalogs, and also shot some portraits for artist Andy Warhol's magazine, Interview.

Sloan has recently picked up her camera again.

"I did a series in black and white of all the famous horses in the Breeders" Cup," said Sloan. She said that she hoped to exhibit those pictures at Lone Star, but I haven't talked to anyone yet."

Sloan is currenty focusing all of her energies on getting Mannered another win and keeping him eligible to race past March 26.

* Sam Houston will resume racing after a two-week hiatus on Friday night. The track will race on a Friday-through-Sunday-night basis in January. The feature on Friday is a $24,000 allowance route led by stakes winner Lady Mallory.