08/02/2005 11:00PM

Pish goes after 7th Retama title


Talk about staying power. Trainer Danny Pish will begin his quest for a seventh straight Retama Park title on Friday, when the San Antonio area track opens. The meet will run through Oct. 15.

Pish has a 90-horse stable that is divided between Retama and his training center in San Antonio. The numbers make him tough to beat, but to keep a streak going for so long is also a testament to his work ethic. It takes quality horses, but also intense diligence to maintain the top spot.

"Hopefully I can get the lucky seven," said Pish. "I don't want to take anything for granted."

Pish, who sent out Goosey Moose and Agrivating General to finish one-two in the $125,000 Assault Stakes last month at Lone Star Park, will be teaming with jockey Don Simington on a regular basis this meet. Roman Chapa, who won the riding title last year and was a regular aboard Pish horses, is now riding in Chicago.

Among the new stables at the meet will be Chris Hartman, Andy Konkoly, and Cecil Decker Jr. Trainer Steve Asmussen said he will have about 30 horses at Retama. He had also planned to send a division to Remington Park, but with a large lineup of young Texas-breds in his barn, he is settled in at Retama, where he will focus on the Texas Stallion Stakes.

"Those are races we need to do well in and should be represented in," said Asmussen, who will ship in for stakes at Remington.

Offolter sitting on strong meet

Joe Offolter, a past title winner at Remington, finished out the Lone Star meet with a bang and hopes to see that momentum carry over to Remington. He will have 40 horses at the meet, and among the top horses in his stable will be turf fillies Touch of Creme and High Pioneer.

Offolter finished ninth in the standings at Lone Star, winning 20 races from 97 starters. The meet was his best ever at Lone Star.

"We got on a roll on turf," he said.

Oklahoma is home for Offolter, and he is pleased to see the purse increase at the meet and the prospect of future purse surges at Remington once its casino opens this fall.

"My clients are really enthused," he said. "They're investing more money."

Among the new faces at the Remington meet are trainers Dallas Keen, Allen Milligan, Jack Bruner, and Chuck Turco, who is returning after racing in Louisiana. Defending training champ Roger Engel is back, as is Donnie Von Hemel, Bret Calhoun, and Joe Petalino.

Quincy Hamilton, who won the riding title last year, will be part of a strong colony that includes Cliff Berry, who won the recent title at Lone Star, newcomer Jamie Theriot, and the comebacking Glen Murphy.

The racing office shuffle

There have been some changes in the racing offices at Remington and Retama.

Larry Craft and Mike Shamburg, who had been with Retama, are now associated with Remington. Craft is the director of racing at the Oklahoma City track, and Shamburg has been named racing secretary. Fred Hutton, who served as racing secretary during the Quarter Horse meet at Remington, is a simulcasting coordinator for Remington.

Craft also continues to serve as director of racing and racing secretary at Lone Star, which like Remington is owned by Magna. James Leatherman, 33, was an assistant to Craft at Retama, where he is now the racing secretary.

Shamburg, 51, said purses for maiden special weight races at Remington have increased from $11,500 last meet to $14,000, while allowances are up from $17,000 and $18,000 a year ago to $22,000 to $25,000. He said he had 2,400 stall applications for the 1,225 available stalls at Remington.

50 cents will buy a lot

Tired turnstiles. That is what Bryan Brown, chief executive officer of Retama, wants to see this meet. "Our goal is always to increase attendance, and, of course, we hope to increase wagering, but the way to start that at least is to get them in the gates," said Brown.

To that end, Retama will offer free admission during its 50-cent night promotions. The promotion will be held on five Friday nights and seven Saturday nights this meet, said Brown.

Part of the promotion is 50-cent hot dogs and Pepsi.

And speaking of what 50 cents will buy, Remington is resurrecting the pick six this meet, but with a 50-cent minimum rather than $2.

The bet will only be available to patrons ontrack and at offtrack betting sites associated with Remington.

* Remington's casino is just one aspect of construction that has been going on at the track. The roof on the facility also was replaced.