07/31/2001 11:00PM

Pish sends 'Boots' on Friday

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Boots on Sunday can get trainer Danny Pish off to a fast start at Retama Park near San Antonio this meet with a win in Friday's opening night feature, the $35,000 J.R. Straus Memorial Stakes. Pish, seeking his third consecutive title at the track, said the race will serve as the colt's springboard to the $100,000 Arlington Sprint at Arlington Park on Aug. 25.

Retama Park is where it all began for Pish and Boots on Sunday. The horseman won his first career title at the track in 1999, while Boots on Sunday won his debut over the local strip the same year. The Straus is a homecoming of sorts for the two, and Pish looks for a strong race from Boots on Sunday, a multiple stakes winner of $237,915. "I feel like he'll be tough as usual," said Pish. "But the race isn't a cakewalk by any means."

Lights on Broadway could be the biggest threat to Boots on Sunday. In his last start the colt closed from off the pace to win the $150,000 Assault Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Lone Star Park. Trainer C.W. "Bubba" Cascio has put short, brisk works into Lights on Broadway to prepare him for the turn back to six furlongs, a distance he won over June 10.

"It looks like there should be a lot of speed in the race, and that will help us a little bit," said Cascio, who later this meet could start Lights on Broadway in the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame Stakes on Oct. 6. Cliff Berry has the mount in the Straus.

Roman Chapa, who won last year's riding title at Retama Park, has the mount on Boots on Sunday. "I have a lot of confidence in him," said Chapa. "He runs his heart out every time."

Pish, who won last year's title in a tie with Jerenesto Torrez, will have 50 horses at Retama Park for the new meet. Among his stakes performers are Screen Attraction, set to run in the $50,000 Margarita Breeders' Cup on Saturday, and Sisters Shamrock, who is to run in the $35,000 Lakeway on Aug. 10.

Chapa gets strong support from Pish, Romero

Chapa has a good chance to defend his riding title this season. Pish and Gerald Romero, who has brought a strong stable to Retama Park, have both indicated plans to ride Chapa on a regular basis. Chapa said his goals for the meet are simple. "I'm going to see if I can be leading rider, and see if I can beat my winning mounts from last year."

Working to help the rider achieve that is agent Scott Hare, a Chicago transplant whose father once worked as a valet for Chapa. Over the past several years Hare has represented Garrett Gomez, Mark Guidry, and Carlos Silva.

Steve Bourque tries Retama

One of the newcomers at the meet is Steve Bourque, a south Louisiana native who will be based at Retama Park for the first time this season. Bourque, who won the 2000/2001 riding title at Sam Houston Race Park, spent some time at Lone Star this summer drumming up business for Retama.

"He rode the last couple of weeks at Lone Star to get things going for here," said agent Mark Parker. The lobbying went well. Parker has Bourque booked to ride all 10 races Friday night, including the Cole Norman-trained Joyful Tune in the Straus.