06/24/2004 12:00AM

Rollicking Caller budding turf star


Last year at Louisiana Downs, trainer Donnie Von Hemel developed 3-year-old Waupaca into a turf stakes winner. This year, he may do the same with Rollicking Caller.

Rollicking Caller, a 3-year-old trained by Von Hemel, could rule a slight favorite in a competitive $50,000 Excalibur Stakes in Bossier City, La., on Saturday. Already a winner over the local turf course, he will take on 11 others in the about one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, including stakes winners Britt's Jules, Foxtrot Oscar, Old Lee, Mr. Devious, and the promising Oncearoundtwice.

Von Hemel sent out Waupaca to win the Donnie Wilhite Memorial under Pat Day on the Super Derby undercard last September. The colt went on to win the $100,000 Woodchopper at Fair Grounds, then returned to Louisiana Downs this year and won the $50,000 Barksdale.

Rollicking Caller seems as promising. He started his career on turf and won his debut in his second start. From there, he racked up two wins on dirt before returning to turf and winning an optional claimer over Mr. Devious and Foxtrot Oscar on the opening day card at Louisiana Downs.

From there, Rollicking Caller stepped into stakes company and ran a close third to No Place Like It in the $200,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes at Lone Star Park on May 31. No Place Like It has won his last three starts at Lone Star.

Luis Quinonez, who is in the midst of a strong meet, has the mount on Rollicking Caller for owners Mike and Mary Kindred.

Trainer John Locke will send out Oncearoundtwice, who has placed second in two $100,000 turf stakes. Locke shipped into Louisiana Downs and won the fillies counterpart of the Excalibur, the $50,000 Chapel Belle on turf, with Topango.

He has a good chance for a second successful invasion. Oncearoundtwice ran second in the Ketel One Juvenile at Retama Park and the Bourbon County at Keeneland at 2, and in more recent times won a turf allowance at Lone Star. E.J. Perrodin, who is considered one of the region's best turf riders, has the mount on Oncearoundtwice for Tbd Owners.

Others of note in the race include Old Lee, who will stretch back out around two turns and return to turf after winning the $40,000 B.B. Rayburn at Evangeline Downs on May 22. He won his maiden at two turns on turf at Louisiana Downs last November. Old Lee races for Frank Fletcher and is trained by Sam David Jr.