07/16/2001 11:00PM

Seven races, eight starters, one Cole Norman


Cole Norman is in the house. The trainer, who has won the last three training titles at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., goes to serious work to secure his fourth on Thursday when he sends out eight starters in seven races, including Cashel Palace in the feature, a five-furlong turf allowance worth $22,000.

Norman has had just a handful of starters during the first few weeks of the Louisiana Downs meet. He was busy closing out his stellar meet at Lone Star Park near Dallas, where he won with 43 percent of his starters and ranked second in the standings behind Steve Asmussen.

With Lone Star ending last Sunday, Norman is now focused full-time on Louisiana Downs. "We started off a little slow because we wanted to finish up at Lone Star," said Norman, who shipped the remainder of his horses to Louisiana Downs on Monday.

Cashel Palace heads a competitive field of nine sprinters in the eighth race. In his most recent start he won a five-furlong turf sprint by a neck over During the Act, who returned last Sunday to win an allowance race at Lone Star. E.J. Perrodin, who was aboard Cashel Palace last out, has the return call for Norman.

Turco sees future (and it's slots)

Trainer Chuck Turco, who will send out Sam's Country Blue against Cashel Palace on Thursday, has a string of horses stabled at Louisiana Downs for the first time this season. In the past, he has shipped a few horses to the track for stakes, among them Grade 2 winner Dazzling Falls, who finished sixth in the Super Derby in 1995.

Turco said the coming of slots encouraged him to set up a storefront at Louisiana Downs. "I want to get a feel for the place for the future because it looks like the place of the future to me," said Turco, whose top horses include Naturalingredients, set to run as the highweight Saturday in the $30,000 Queen's Handicap at Horsemen's Park in Omaha, Neb.

Sam's Country Blue, who won a stakes for Turco last winter in Oklahoma, tries turf for the first time Thursday. "I don't know how he'll do on the grass, but he'll handle the distance well," said Turco. "He's fast and he doesn't have to be in front." Turco has given the mount to Glen Murphy.

New arrivals Lovato and Panas

Anthony Lovato, who won the riding title last year at Louisiana Downs, returns to the track for the first time this meet Thursday. He has seven mounts, including three for Norman. Lovato comes to Bossier City on the heels of a strong meet at Lone Star, where he won six races on a single program July 3 to help lift him to second place in the standings behind Corey Lanerie.

Deirdre Panas also had a strong Lone Star. She ranked eighth in the track's standings with 33 wins, and in one season of riding at Lone Star became its all-time winningest female jockey. "It was my goal to finish in the top 10 at Lone Star and I'm very, very happy I did that," said Panas.

Panas has never ridden at Louisiana Downs, but decided to move to the track because its purses are the strongest in the region right now, and because her clients include such Louisiana Downs staples as Gilbert Ciavaglia and Sam David Jr.

* Royal Spy, who is Norman's hope for this year's Super Derby, is to run Sunday in the Grade 2, $250,000 American Derby at Arlington Park.