10/06/2005 11:00PM

Paz Ciudadana looks for third straight

Louisiana Downs
Due to Win Again comes into the Cornucopia off a win in the $100,000 River Cities (above).

BOSSIER CITY, La. - Paz Ciudadana has emerged as one of this region's best turf mares, and on Sunday she will return to Louisiana Downs, where her rise began, to start as the 123-pound highweight in the $40,000 Cornucopia Handicap on closing day.

Fourteen fillies and mares are in the turf race, to be run at about 1 1/16 miles. Other contenders are Due to Win Again, the second highweight at 121 pounds, who won the $100,000 River Cities here Sept. 10, and Pad the Wallet, winner of the $50,000 Old South here June 4.

But the hottest horse in the field is Paz Ciudadana, who comes off back-to-back stakes wins. In all, she won three stakes over the summer, her first in the $50,000 Honeymoon at Louisiana Downs on May 7.

Paz Ciudadana, who was bred in Chile, registered her next stakes win at Retama, in the $50,000 Margarita Breeders' Cup, and one start later captured the $40,000 Ricks Memorial at Remington on Sept. 5.

"She's a South American mare, just durable and tough as can be," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Paz Ciudadana. "She doesn't care where she runs. She won at the Fair Grounds. She won here. She won at Remington Park, and she won at San Antonio. That's four different racetracks, and she ran an excellent fourth in the WinStar Distaff at Lone Star."

Paz Ciudadana could get a stalking trip Sunday under Luis Quinonez.

"She's settled more the last two times we ran her," said Asmussen.

Rose Hunter, a daughter of Jade Hunter, set the pace and finished second to Paz Ciudadana in the Margarita. She returned one start later and won an allowance.

"She seems to be getting better and better," said Tony Richey, who trains Rose Hunter. "That's kind of typical of Jade Hunters. A lot of them get better and better as they age."

Texas farm serves as Richey's home base

Richey has compiled a record of 7 wins and 7 seconds from 28 starts in the region this year, but has not been based at any of the area tracks. He has been shipping in from a private training center, Oak Leaf Farm, in Tyler, Texas.

Richey's client Royce Roberts has put at least $1 million into upgrading the 100-acre facility. The training track has been extended from six furlongs to one mile, and new fencing and paddocks have been installed. There is also a 1 1/2-mile gallop up and down hills, and plans to add a traditional turf course, said Richey. The facility includes a 25-stall training barn.

"Mr. Roberts wanted a first-class facility that he could get his horses ready and send them off, and decided to just do it himself," said Richey. "It's so centrally located. We're an hour and a half from here, an hour and a half from Lone Star, and three hours from Hot Springs. It gives us a lot of options."

Among the promising horses stabled there are Rose Hunter; Desert Wheat, runner-up in the $100,000 El Joven at Retama and the $125,000 Harrah's Juvenile at Louisiana Downs; and Arctic Man, a 3-year-old full brother to Arctic Boy, the 2001 runner-up in the Grade 3 Rebel at Oaklawn.

There is also Mr. Franks, a 2-year-old son of Anet who is one of a handful of young horses Richey plans to race this fall at Keeneland. Mr. Franks was purchased at auction as an unnamed yearling. John Franks, a four-time Eclipse Award-winning owner from Shreveport who died in 2003, bred Mr. Franks.

The colt is owned by Stan Powell, and Powell put great care into his naming, said Richey.

"He said, 'I don't want to name him what I want to name him unless he can run,' " recalled Richey. "I said 'I really think he can run.' He said, 'Well, I think I want to name him Mr. Franks.' "

Powell's dealings with Franks included selling him Nijinsky's Gold, a Grade 3 winner of $622,160.

Norman to take two-week vacation

The nation's third-leading stable will be unusually quiet for the next several weeks. Cole Norman, who will wrap up his eighth training title at Louisiana Downs on Sunday, is taking a two-week vacation beginning Tuesday.

"I haven't put the phone down in 11 years," said Norman.

Norman said his barn will continue to train under the direction of assistants Jorge Lara and Oscar Lara. He does not anticipate starting horses until Nov. 19, the opening of the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs.

Norman is the nation's third-leading trainer by wins. Going into the Louisiana Downs races Friday, he had won 88 of 287 starts at the track for meet-best earnings of $1,268,657. Morris Nicks ranked as the second leading trainer with 34 wins through Thursday.

Hyte Regency to run at Keeneland next

Hyte Regency was considered one of the meet's most promising 2-year-olds, and he solidified his reputation last Saturday when he picked up his first stakes win in the Harrah's Juvenile, his stakes debut.

The race was run at 1 1/16 miles on turf, and Hyte Regency will stay on the grass for his next start, which is scheduled to come in the $100,000 Bourbon County at Keeneland on Oct. 28, said his trainer, Jeff Trosclair.

Hyte Regency is a strongly built son of Diligence.

"He doesn't look like a 2-year-old, does he?" said Trosclair. "He's a January foal, and he's certainly going the right way. He's a nice colt."

Two options for Dreamsandvisions

Dreamsandvisions, winner of the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial by a head last Saturday, could make his next start in one of two Texas-bred route stakes at Sam Houston on Nov. 19, said his trainer, Steven Duke.

The winner of his two-turn and turf debut in the Wilhite, Dreamsandvisions will be considered for the $50,000 Richard King at 1 1/8 miles on turf or the $100,000 Star of Texas at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, said Duke.

"With his style, I don't believe distance is going to be a problem," he said.

* Owner Thad Ackel donated Artemus Sunrise's earnings from his 30-1 upset in the Grade 3, $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship to help victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.