04/16/2003 12:00AM

Sign of Lanty likely done racing at age 9


Three-time distance champion Sign of Lanty, now 9 years old, has probably run his final race. He has been idle since winning the Grade 1, $200,000 Marathon National last December.

"We are thinking about retiring him," trainer John Cooper said. "We've been talking about it. He's had a few [physical] problems and it's hard to keep an older horse in condition.

"I want him to go out a winner," said Cooper, noting Sign of Lanty looked like he was going to be beaten in the Marathon National "but he reached down and pulled it out. That was the way his whole career has been."

The Marathon National was the richest 870-yard race ever run. It was Sign of Lanty's fourth straight win in the stakes, which was run as the Marathon Handicap until 2002.

Sign of Lanty was claimed by owners Rod and Jackie MacPherson for $8,000 in 1998 and $522,506 of his $545,391 lifetime earnings have been earned for the MacPhersons. In 65 starts, he has 28 wins, including 17 in stakes. Sixteen of those stakes wins have come at Los Alamitos, only two shy of the track record shared by world champions Charger Bar and Kaweah Bar. Sign of Lanty's only stakes win outside Los Alamitos came when he set a track record in the 2000 MCI Distance Challenge Championship at Lone Star Park.

Sign of Lanty's three distance champion titles equals the record set by Griswold (1991-93).

Mardi Gras winner in Laddie

Vals Fortune, winner of the Grade 2 Mardi Gras Futurity on March 20, looks for his second stakes win of the year when he heads the Grade 3, $91,500 Laddie Futurity for 2-year-old Louisiana-bred colts and geldings at Delta Downs on Saturday night.

Owned by Teddy Abrams Jr. and trained by Heath Taylor, Vals Fortune set a 300-yard track record of 15.641 seconds at Fair Grounds when he won the $103,771 Mardi Gras Futurity.

Vals Fortune followed his Mardi Gras victory with a three-quarter-length victory in his Laddie Futurity trial on April 5. His 17.082-second time for the 330 yards was the fastest qualifying time from the four trials.

Three first-time starters - JT Tom Cat Scat, WW Man Done Gone, and Almost Ides - also qualified out of that trial.

Toast to Dandy and Wyatts First Laveaux each won his career debut in the Laddie trials and qualified for the finals.

Toast to Dandy won by a head over qualifier Dasher Got Cash, a winner of his Mardi Gras Futurity trial in his only other start.

Wyatts First Laveaux defeated qualifiers Enjoy N the Cash and Best Be Streakin.

The co-featured Grade 3, $117,000 Lassie Futurity for statebred fillies is led by Psalmist, who made an impressive career debut.

Trained by Darrel Soileau, Psalmist raced to a 2 1/2-length victory with a 17.223-second time for the 330 yards. It was the quickest time from the six trials held on April 4.

Lindas Village Magic was a 13-1 upset winner in her trial when she won by 1 1/4-lengths in 17.287 seconds, the second-fastest qualifying time.

Toast to Mallard, owned by the WPR Stable, won her maiden in her second start with a one-length trial win over qualifiers Shes Glens Runaway, Cool Eleanor, and Sarahs Valentine.