09/10/2003 11:00PM

'Sara' in good spot


Before parimutuel racing was reinstated in Texas in the late 1980's, breeders in the state turned to neighboring Louisiana Downs to host their Friendship Stakes. That was 30 years ago, and the Texas-bred race, which is the oldest continuously run stakes race at Louisiana Downs, has since grown into two divisions, both of which will be renewed Saturday.

Texas racing itself has expanded so much the past decade that Louisiana Downs will not be the only track running stakes races for Texas-breds Saturday.

Retama Park near San Antonio is set to run two divisions of the $50,000 Texas Stallion Stakes for the offspring of nominated stallions, and both have drawn standout Texas-breds in Eagle Lake and Most Feared.

The Friendship series at Louisiana Downs will be decided first, with the $71,446-estimated colts and geldings division set for the ninth race, and the $64,417-estimated fillies division as the track's 11th.

The best matchup might be in the fillies division because there are three sharp fillies to choose from - Bluegrass Sara, Hay Lauren, and Royal Pet, who was supplemented for $7,500.

Bluegrass Sara shortens up to six furlongs and returns to the main track for this race. The last time she raced under those conditions, the result was a six-length win in the $75,000 Silver Spur Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park on July 12.

Following that race, Bluegrass Sara tried two turns and turf in the $100,000 La Senorita at Retama. She stumbled near the half-mile pole and was pulled up in that race, but was able to walk off the course. She has since worked well as she attempts to become the second filly in her family to win the Friendship.

The first was her half-sister Richbabe. Partly due to the family connection, Bluegrass Sara's trainer, Steve Asmussen, has had the Friendship penciled in for Bluegrass Sara since her sharp debut win in May.

Asmussen also trained Richbabe, one of four winners he has saddled in 11 runnings of the fillies division of the Friendship. Corey Lanerie will ride Bluegrass Sara for owner Heiligbrodt Racing Stable.

Hay Lauren finished second to Bluegrass Sara in the fillies division of the $138,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity in June, then returned in her last start to win a division of the $122,000 Texas Stallion Stakes. Gerard Melancon has the mount for trainer Barry Germany.

In the colts and geldings division of the Friendship, flashy debut winner Roundabout Jones will take on stakes-placed colts Joyjet, Afternoon Charlie, Full Moons Arisin, and Esteban Miguel. Full Moons Arisin and Esteban Miguel were each supplemented to the race for $7,500.