08/25/2003 11:00PM

Remington Rock prefers to be racing at 9


The racing at Louisiana Downs this week will arguably be the strongest of the current meet. There are two overnight handicaps planned, as well as three stakes races and an allowance that could pass as one.

On Thursday, in the first race, stakes winners Remington Rock, Lights on Broadway, and Rebridled meet highweight King Zonic in a $32,000 overnight handicap named The Big Earl.

The race marks the 2003 return of 9-year-old Remington Rock. He’ll be spotting conditioning to his rivals in the mile and 70-yard race that fills a void on the stakes calendar left by the absence of the Ark-La-Tex Handicap, which was not brought back this year.

Remington Rock was working for the Ark-La-Tex a year ago when he strained a suspensory. He would have been a leading contender for the race based on his third-place finish to Duckhorn in a Churchill Downs allowance in June 2002. Since then, he has been given plenty of time to recuperate and prepare for his return. Remington Rock has a history of running well fresh.

“At his age, I’d sure like to have an easier spot to come back in, but at the same time, we’ll get to see if he’s still wanting to run,” said Richard Jackson, who trains Remington Rock for Pals Racing Stable. “I’ve trained him about all I need to train him.”

Remington Rock does not like being turned out away from the racetrack, so he has remained in Jackson’s barn throughout his rehabilitation.

“We had turned him out [in the past] and he just didn’t do good,” Jackson said. “He’s a horse that wants to be around people. I think that’s one reason we went on with him [at age 9]. He likes the attention he gets around the barn. He’s the mascot of the barn.”

Remington Rock has a big following at Oaklawn, where he won the Grade 3 Fifth Season Breeders’ Cup in 2001 as a 7-year-old. Overall, he has won 15 races and $376,200.

To add to that total, Remington Rock will have to catch King Zonic, a half-brother to millionaire Silver Goblin who will break from the rail. He is owned by Al Horton and trained by Kenny Smith, and has won two of his last three starts. King Zonic will be ridden by Tim Doocy.

Thursday’s feature is one of four overnight handicaps scheduled to be run here the next two weeks. The next one is set for Friday on turf. A $28,000 allowance on that same card drew stakes winners Southern Tour, Leslie’s Love, and Little Angel.

The $50,000 Prelude, a prep for the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby, is set for Saturday; the $50,000 Folklore, which could draw top regional sprinters That Tat and Doctor Mike, will be run Sunday; and the $50,000 Lyrique Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on turf is set for Monday.

Double-digits winners for Nichols

Jockey Jeri Nichols has lit up the tote board all meet, with her winners returning an average $24.40. Her latest double-digit scores came over the weekend, when she had a $13 winner on Sunday, her birthday, and a $27 winner on Friday.

Nichols, who ranks among the top 10 riders at the meet, has registered the majority of her wins this season in maiden claiming races. She was the third-leading rider last spring during the Thoroughbred meet at Delta Downs.

* Jockey Lonnie Meche, who is the third-leading rider at Louisiana Downs, has been suspended seven days for careless riding in the seventh race on Aug. 21. His suspension began Monday and will run through Sunday.