07/02/2002 11:00PM

Sam Houston moves to avoid Delta Downs overlap

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In a move that would give Sam Houston Race Park in Houston less overlap with slots-rich Delta Downs in Vinton, La., Sam Houston has asked the Texas Racing Commission for an 83-date meet next year that would run from Aug. 1 to Dec. 27.

Sam Houston has run from November to March the past several years. Eliminating racing in January, February, and March of next year would minimize conflict with Delta Downs, which will race 80 nights from Nov. 7, 2002, to March 23, 2003.

Delta Downs is located about two hours east of Sam Houston.

Texas tracks submitted date requests for next year to the commission on Monday, and a calendar for the state could be established as early as the panel's next meeting, in August.

The proposed Thoroughbred meet at Sam Houston would overlap in-state with Retama Park near San Antonio, which has asked for a 51-day Thoroughbred meet next year from Aug. 1 to Oct. 25. The tracks are in negotiations concerning the conflict, with one solution being a January to March meet at Retama Park.

In addition to overlapping Thoroughbred dates, requested Quarter Horse meets at the track conflict: Sam Houston has asked for a 45-day meet from May 1 to July 13, while Retama Park has asked for a 27-day season from April 25 to June 22.

There were no date-request surprises from Lone Star Park near Dallas, which has asked for 70 days of Thoroughbred racing from April 3 to July 13 next year, and 33 days of Quarter Horse racing from Oct. 3 to Nov. 29.

Manor Downs near Austin, which conducted its inaugural Thoroughbred meet this spring, has asked for a mixed meet instead next year from April 5 to April 27. A meet for Quarter Horses would run from Feb. 22 to March 30.

Also requesting dates for 2003 was the yet-to-be constructed Saddle Brook Park in Amarillo. The track asked for eight days of mixed racing from Sept. 6 to Sept. 28.

Halo Cat to run at Ellis

Halo Cat, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 110 for his 4 1/4-length win over Beau's Town in the $50,000 Kings Court Stakes last Friday at Louisiana Downs, is to make his next start in the $60,000 Don Bernhardt Stakes at Ellis Park on July 27, said trainer Mike Mareina.

The Kings Court was the fourth straight win for Halo Cat, a strong-looking colt who has developed rapidly in recent months. "He's a little bit of a late-bloomer," said Mareina, who trains Halo Cat for Kuehne Racing.

"He's shown more speed than usual - he used to be more laid-back - and he carries it the distance. He knows his job well."

Halo Cat, a 4-year-old son of Southern Halo, won two Lone Star Park allowance races and the $30,000 Manor Downs Sprint in Austin, Texas, before winning the Kings Court. He is based at Lone Star.

Beau's Town, who had won six previous races heading into the Kings Court, came out of the race in good order, said co-owner Dave Hulkewicz. If the colt continues to train well over the next several weeks, he will make his next start at Calder Race Course in the $400,000 Smile Sprint on July 13.

Louisiana Downs interest transferred

The Louisiana Racing Commission has given conditional approval to the transfer of interest in Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., to Downs Entertainment Group, a partnership of five men who live in northern Louisiana who have a contract to purchase Louisiana Downs.

Jim Davis, a Shreveport, La., attorney, heads the group. The partnership also includes John Turner and William Windham, who have ownership interests in Sun Ray Park in Farmington, N.M., and The Downs at Albuquerque in Albuquerque, N.M.; and E.R. Campbell III and Christopher Campbell.

The transfer enables Louisiana State Police to proceed with background investigations on the men, checks that could be completed in the next three to six months. Before taking over Louisiana Downs, the new ownership group must gain final approvals from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board and the Louisiana Racing Commission.