08/12/2002 11:00PM

Prized Amberpro the best kind of medicine

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Prized Amberpro, a former $10,000 claimer who over the past few months has developed into one of this region's top female sprinters, has been good for trainer John Gelner's health. The mare, who is set to race at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 24 in the $50,000 Monique Rene Handicap, has lifted Gelner's spirits following his minor stroke last year, and subsequent heart problems.

"She has been a tremendous boost," said Gelner, who trains Prized Amberpro for Linda Patch and Joseph Thomas. "She keeps me going."

Prized Amberpro has realized her potential over the past few months. She won her first stakes May 27 when she captured the $100,000 Valid Expectations over Hattiesburg and Hallowed Dreams at Lone Star Park. Last Saturday night she picked up her second stakes win in the $30,000 Matron at her home track, Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, La.

In between the stakes scores, Prized Amberpro carried Chris McCarron to victory in a starter race during the NTRA Jockey Championship at Lone Star, and also finished fourth to Gold Mover after being bumped in the stretch of the Grade 2, $400,000 Princess Rooney at Calder Race Course.

Gelner's condition keeps him from being as active as he would like, and as a result, he depends on his son and assistant, Scott Gelner, to help with the care of Prized Amberpro.

"I have a hard time breathing, and that takes me away from the barn," said Gelner. "I go about every other morning."

Gelner said a good performance in the Monique Rene could send Prized Amberpro to Keeneland this fall for the Grade 3, $125,000 Thoroughbred Club of America on Oct. 20. Later this year, he plans to start her in a two-turn stakes on Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds.

Prized Amberpro has won 12 of 25 career starts and $235,457.

Strange pays

A pick three paid significantly more than the pick four ending on the same race at Louisiana Downs last Sunday.

Both wagers ended on race 10, which was won Nacho Mann, who paid $72.60. Other winners in the series were Whambam, who started the pick four when he paid $3 in the seventh race; Nat and Julia, who won the eighth and started the pick three by paying $7.40; and Took Out, who won the ninth and paid $7.

Two dollars was bet on the winning pick three combination, which paid $4,644.60, while $6 was bet on the winning pick four, which paid $1,737.

The pool for the pick three was $6,193, while the pick four pool totaled $6,948. Both wagers have a 25 percent takeout.

Prelude hopeful tries turf

Remember the Party, who is being pointed for the $50,000 Prelude on dirt Aug. 31, will try turf for the first time in the ninth race Thursday. In his last start, the colt finished a fast-closing second over six furlongs in the $40,000 Airline, and should benefit from the stretch out back to two turns Thursday as his last win came at a mile. Anthony Lovato rides for Norman.

Norman 3 for 3 in weekend stakes

Trainer Cole Norman won all three stakes he had starters in last weekend, including a sweep of the two offerings at Louisiana Downs.

His run started Saturday in Bossier City when Taylor's Queen won the $40,000 Dixie Miss, and continued in Texas at Retama Park, where Chauffe Au Rouge won the $50,000 Retama Turf Cup.

A day later, Norman was back in the winner's circle at Louisiana Downs, taking the $40,000 Pioneer with Comic Truth.

* War Emblem, winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Haskell, heads the list of 42 nominees to the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 21.