07/18/2005 11:00PM

Skin Flint just keeps getting faster


BOSSIER CITY, La. - If there is one division in which perennial training champ Cole Norman has excelled in recent seasons, it would be in the older male sprinter ranks. Among Norman's top sprinters in recent years are Beau's Town, That Tat, Electrode, and Top Commander.

You might be able to add Skin Flint to that list if the 4-year-old son of Old Trieste continues his rapid development. A $130,000 yearling purchase by Mary and Gary West at the Keeneland September sale in 2002, Skin Flint was a slow starter to say the least. He finally made his debut late in his 3-year-old year at Fair Grounds, and the results were less than spectacular. Two more poor efforts followed at Oaklawn early this year, before yet another disappointing effort in his local bow in May. Skin Flint's transformation began in his next start.

ran away from maiden claimers in the slop on May 29, earning a gaudy 98 Beyer Figure. He wired an entry-level allowance group going two turns in his next start, earning a 95 Beyer, but it was a return to one turn this past Saturday that produced his most impressive effort yet.

Under regular rider Guy Smith, Skin Flint chased early leader Demon's Prince before taking over on the turn of the seven-furlong two-other-than affair. Skin Flint crossed the wire in 1:21.79, earning a 100 Beyer and threatening the track record of 1:21.60.

Skin Flint's stakes debut could come in the Island Whirl Stakes on July 30 or the Folklore next month.

* Norman, who won the Razorback Futurity for Arkansas-breds here last year with Stormy and Crafty, looks to have a prime contender for this year's edition on Sept. 24 after Chief Chubby won a strong open maiden special weight by over six lengths on Sunday. Chief Chubby is a son of Proper Reality out of a Demons Begone mare, which, fittingly enough, gives him the 1988 Arkansas Derby winner on the top side of his pedigree and the 1987 winner on the bottom.

* Thursday's optional-claiming feature at five furlongs on the turf looks to be Ghostly Gal's race to win. Since trainer Steve Asmussen moved the Silver Ghost filly back to one turn to begin the year, she has blossomed, both on dirt and turf. She comes off an allowance victory at Lone Star.

Tracey Hebert will be in the saddle aboard Ghostly Gal, who should, as usual, be a short price.