06/27/2006 11:00PM

Pie N Burger dead at age 8

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Lone Star Park
Pie N Burger won six stakes races. Here he takes the Lone Star Handicap.

Pie N Burger, who for years ruled as one of the top handicap horses in Louisiana and Texas, died of a heart attack during a routine gallop two weeks ago at Louisiana Downs, said his longtime trainer, Cole Norman.

, who was 8, won 14 of 43 starts and $924,133. Of his wins, six came in stakes races, among them the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap; the Ark-La-Tex Handicap at Louisiana Downs; and two runnings of the Evangeline Mile. Pie N Burger also shipped from Louisiana Downs and won the $150,000 Seabiscuit Handicap on the Breeders' Cup undercard at Santa Anita in 2003.

"That was the best horse I ever laid my hands on," said Norman, who went on to recount the win in the Seabiscuit. "You don't see many of those horses go 22 and 45 and 1:09 and keep going the mile and sixteenth in 1:42. That's what you call an old class horse, a handicap horse. It's been a tough two weeks."

Pie N Burger had been working at Louisiana Downs since March in preparation for his first start since December 2004, when he finished second by a nose to Midway Road in the Tenacious Handicap at Fair Grounds. While he was away from the races, Pie N Burger had bone chips removed from his ankles, said Norman.

"We gave him time, plus a lot more," said Norman. "We just babied him and it worked. He came back perfect."

Norman trained Pie N Burger for the Kagele brothers. Pie N Burger began his career in Southern California and was claimed out of his debut for $62,500. He raced with several different trainers in the West before being claimed for $100,000 and sent to this region and to Norman.

True Tails a bright spot for Norman

True Tails, trained by Norman, might be better than ever. She won her first stakes race of the year last Saturday, when she led throughout to capture the $50,000 Suthern Accent at Louisiana Downs.

"In the paddock, I was looking at her Saturday, and I said [to my assistants], that's the best this filly's ever looked," said Norman. "Her coat had a good shine. She feels good. She's happy."

True Tails broke on top in the Suthern Accent and was clear through an opening quarter in 22.03 seconds and a half-mile in 44.91. She went on to win by 3 1/4 lengths under leading rider Carlos Gonzalez, covering the six furlongs in 1:09.71.

"They came running at her, but she was able to hold them off," said Norman. "She's tough. She'll win her share. One thing about her, you let her get loose out there, you're in trouble."

The Suthern Accent was the third stakes win for True Tails. She is in the midst of a strong year. She opened her season with a third-place finish to Grade 1 winner Round Pond in an optional claimer at Oaklawn Park in February and then ran third in consecutive sprint stakes, also at Oaklawn.

Following a freshening, True Tails captured an optional claiming race at Louisiana Downs by 7 1/2 lengths, then was second by a neck in the $100,000 Valid Expectations at Lone Star on May 29.

"We'll look at stakes around this area," said Norman. "Whether at Retama, Remington, or Evangeline or Louisiana Downs."

True Tails was one of five winners Norman had a Louisiana Downs last week to maintain his position as the leading trainer. He had won with 23 of 67 starters at the meet through Wednesday.

New workers' comp program starts

Changes to the workers' compensation procedures were to begin in Louisiana on Saturday, when the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association was to begin providing insurance coverage for trainers. New legislation has enabled the organization to negotiate a single group policy on behalf of all trainers. In the past, horsemen had to secure individual policies. Representatives of the horsemen's group will be at Louisiana Downs and Evangeline Downs this weekend, said Sean Alfortish, president of the Louisiana HBPA.

* Boro won a maiden race by 18 3/4 lengths here Sunday. She is a 3-year-old daughter of Siphon out of Rawesome, who was a memorable debut winner several years ago at Lone Star. Jose Verenzuela rode Boro for trainer Connie Tassistro.

* Taylor's Day, a 12-year-old who has won 28 races from 118 starts, will be one of the top contenders in a $5,000 claiming race Friday after finishing third at this level last time out. He is trained by Jerry Hardin.

* Because of the July 4 holiday, Louisiana Downs will race five straight days this week, from Friday through Tuesday. A fireworks display is scheduled for 10 p.m. Central on Sunday.

* Stakes winner Sixteen Grand is among the contenders in the first race Friday, an allowance sprint for Louisiana-bred fillies worth $32,500.