11/07/2002 1:00AM

Sam Houston: 'Check' faces elders

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Extra Check takes on older rivals in the $30,000 Buffalo Bayou Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park after finishing third against straight 3-year-olds last out in the $150,000 Lawrence Realization at Belmont Park.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race drew a competitive field of nine, including Chauffe Au Rouge and Tuzinama Run, who is 5 for 9 over the local course for trainer John Locke.

Extra Check gives up experience to all his rivals, but what he lacks in seasoning he makes up for in talent. Over the summer, he ran third in two major turf stakes at Arlington Park: the Grade 1 Secretariat and the Grade 2 American Derby.

For his Buffalo Bayou assignment, Extra Check will turn back to the distance of his last win, which came against older allowance rivals at Arlington on July 6. Corey Lanerie ships in to ride for Three King Stable and trainer Michael Stidham.

One of several threats to Extra Check is regional stakes winner Chauffe Au Rouge, who exits the $30,000 No Le Hace Stakes.

"They came off turf last time and he was a distant second, and for his record on off tracks, we were pleased with his race," said Cole Norman, who trains Chauffe Au Rouge. Buck Harris has the mount for owners James Donnan and Gerald Mackey.