12/31/2008 12:00AM

Retap proves stakes-worthy

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Trainer Steve Asmussen won with his final stakes starter of 2008 on Tuesday, when Retap closed with determination for a half-length score in the $106,550 Riley Allison Futurity at Sunland Park.

Retap was an odds-on favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong race following his fourth-place finish to Big Drama in the Grade 3, $750,000 Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs. He overcame traffic on the turn and wore down the leaders to earn a Beyer Figure of 80.

Asmussen on Wednesday was just starting to look at his options for Retap, which include stakes for 3-year-olds at Sunland and Oaklawn.

"I don't know if he'll go back there for the Borderland Derby, or if he'll run in the Southwest at Oaklawn," Asmussen said. "He will go back to Fair Grounds, and we'll just kind of play it by ear and see how he does off the win."

The $100,000 Borderland Derby will be run at 1 1/16 miles at Sunland on Feb. 28. The Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes will be run at a mile at Oaklawn on Feb. 16.

Retap, a son of Tapit who races for Winchell Thoroughbreds, was second in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park in September.

Plans pending for Golden Yank

Golden Yank, who in his last two starts has won the $350,000 Oklahoma Derby and the $150,000 Zia Park Derby, is tentatively being pointed for a start in the Grade 3, $100,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley at Fair Grounds on Jan. 10, said his trainer, Gary Thomas.

However, the horse is stabled at Oaklawn, and as of Wednesday officials at the Hot Springs, Ark., track were not allowing horses from Fair Grounds, Delta Downs, or Evangeline Downs into the stable area after a Fair Grounds-based horse was found to have the equine herpesvirus on Dec. 24. After barring horses from shipping into or out of the track last weekend, Fair Grounds began allowing shippers again on Monday. The barn where the herpes-stricken horse resided has been quarantined, and the five other horses from that barn that tested positive for the virus have been removed from the track.

Thomas wants to be sure that Golden Yank will be allowed back at Oaklawn if he ships to Fair Grounds for the Bradley.

"The Colonel Bradley is an option for him right now, dependent on him shipping back and forth," he said. "Or, we may not run until the Essex at Oaklawn, which is Feb. 7."

Oaklawn officials are scheduled to meet Monday to revisit the track's policy concerning horses shipping in from south Louisiana, said David Longinotti, assistant general manager of racing at Oaklawn. In the interim, Oaklawn has rented stalls at a nearby farm where horses coming from south Louisiana can be housed, he said.

"We'll poll our officials again on Monday," said Longinotti.

Golden Yank was recently named Remington Park's horse of the meet for his powerful win in the Oklahoma Derby. He then traveled to New Mexico and rolled by 6 3/4 lengths in the Zia Park Derby, pushing his career earnings to $688,616.

"He finished out with a bang," Thomas said of the horse's 2008.

New claiming rule at Oaklawn

A new twist to the claiming rules in Arkansas will go into effect when Oaklawn opens Jan. 16. A horse who has not started in 120 days or more can be excluded from being claimed in his first start back at Oaklawn, according to a rule adopted last month by the Arkansas Racing Commission.

The rule requires that the horse run back for the same claiming level or higher than he last started for, said Longinotti.

The claiming preference must be declared at the time of entry.

California put a similar rule in place last year.

More insurance for riders at Sunland

Sunland Park has increased its life insurance policy for jockeys who die from a racetrack injury from $50,000 to $500,000, said Glen Murphy, a member of the local colony who is also on the board of the National Jockeys' Guild. The riders met with Sunland Park general manager Harold Payne on Monday, and the new policy was scheduled to be in place for Jan. 1.

"He did it without even being asked," Murphy said of Payne. "He's just always been a huge supporter of the jockeys here."

Last year in New Mexico, jockey Juan Campos died at a hospital in the days following a spill at the Downs of Albuquerque.

Delta postpones two stakes

Delta Downs has postponed its two stakes races for Saturday, the $75,000 Cypress and $75,000 Camelia, said Chris Warren, the track's director of racing. No reason was given for the postponement.

He said horses originally nominated to the two Louisiana-bred races would be eligible to re-enter the two stakes, which will now be run on Jan. 10.

* Delta has a handicapping contest on Saturday that will serve as a qualifier for the 2009 Horseplayer World Series in Las Vegas in February. There is a $100 entry fee.

* Oaklawn's races will be available on Twinspires, XpressBet, and Youbet, after the track, the Arkansas Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the account-wagering sites finalized an agreement on Wednesday.