03/27/2002 12:00AM

Rising purses lure Barnett back


Bobby Barnett, a three-time training champ at Louisiana Downs in the 1990's, will return to the Bossier City, La., track this summer with a string of horses for the first time in two years. Barnett, who will also continue to race in Kentucky, said the improved purse structure at the track is one of the reasons for his return.

This year, purses during the summer meet at Louisiana Downs have been boosted 40 percent to $200,000 a day. The meet starts June 28.

"We're going back there with some horses," said Barnett. "We've got a lot of young horses, and that's a good place to develop a young horse."

Many of those young horses race for John Franks, the all-time winningest owner at Louisiana Downs.

Mysia Jo to Oaklawn

Mysia Jo, who gave Barnett his second consecutive win in the $100,000 Red Camelia Handicap on Monday at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, was to arrive at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., on Friday to prepare for her next start, which will likely come in one of three races: the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 6; the $75,000 Bayakoa at Oaklawn on April 5; or the $75,000 Irving Distaff on turf at Lone Star Park near Dallas on April 13.

Last year, Mysia Jo finished third in the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn after racing in a turf stakes at Fair Grounds.

"She likes this surface," said Barnett, who won last year's Red Camelia with Sparkles of Luck.

The Barnett-trained Dorothy Ann, who won the Bayakoa last year for trainer Bob Holthus, will be back to defend her title this year, Barnett said.

Decision pending on Ocean Sound

Trainer James Cassidy said a decision on the next race for , the Southern California shipper who finished second as the favorite in the Grade 3, $100,000 Rebel last Saturday at Oaklawn, will be made later this week. The colt is still based in Hot Springs.

Cassidy was pleased with the way Ocean Sound ran. The colt set the pace and came back in the stretch when challenged by eventual winner Windward Passage.

"We're thinking of the big race," Cassidy said of the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby on April 13. "We will make a decision later this week. I haven't made any moves yet. He's still there, and is doing fine."

Dusty Spike to add Lasix

Dusty Spike, who finished third in the Rebel, will return to Oaklawn for the Arkansas Derby, said trainer Mark Lee.

"Next time he'll be L-one [first-time Lasix]," said Lee. "When we got back to the barn [after the race], he coughed."

Lee proceeded to have the horse scoped, and learned that he had bled, and that he also had mucus in his system. "I think the bleeding was the stress of having the mucus in there," said Lee. "It wasn't bad."

Dusty Spike has never run worse than third in six career starts. One race before the Rebel he finished a sharp second to Private Emblem in the fastest division of the $75,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, and last year, he won the $25,000 Alamo Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park over Boston Common.

Tight rider race at Sam Houston

Sam Houston closes out its season Saturday night, and the race for leading rider at the track should go right down to the wire. Past champions Glen Murphy and Don Simington, along with John Jacinto, were tied atop the standings with 60 wins heading into the races Wednesday.

Among owners, Eclipse Award winner Nelson Bunker Hunt, who won the Fair Grounds title on Monday, is in a good position to win his first Sam Houston title. Hunt led the standings with 14 wins heading into Wednesday, two more than the partnership of Shirley Miller and Jaime Castellanos.

Hunt also leads the owner standings by earnings, with $169,307.

Steve Asmussen has locked up the training title, his second at Sam Houston. The meet's highest win percentage trainer is newcomer Cindy Navarre, who has won 12 of 40 starts at the meet for a 30-percent win clip. Navarre has sent out several winners for the Art Preston-owned LOR Stables.