02/02/2004 12:00AM

South Africa has look of rising star


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - South Africa might be the next big thing from the Cole Norman stable. A 3-year-old, South Africa had a wide trip last Saturday, when he won a tough entry-level allowance in good time.

South Africa settled behind the pace of the six-furlong race Saturday, then drifted out near the middle of the track coming into the stretch. He got back on course in the drive and won by three-quarters of a length under Jamie Theriot.

Norman said that South Africa shied from another horse on the turn.

"It was just inexperience," he said. "The first time he ran he was on the front end, wire to wire."

South Africa, a son of Cape Town, has made just three starts. He won his debut at Louisiana Downs, earning a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. He then shipped to Keeneland and finished 11th in a conditioned allowance Oct. 4.

South Africa made his 3-year-old debut Saturday, winning in a sharp 1:10.65. Although plans for South Africa's next start have not been set, Norman said South Africa will be nominated for the $100,000 Southwest Stakes at one mile Feb. 28.

The race would be South Africa's two-turn debut.

"He's one that's going to be up in the race, but I like that he was off of the pace," said Norman. "I think he's better than what we saw [Saturday]. He got the win and all, but I think we'll see some good stuff from him down the road."

South Africa is one of three promising 3-year-olds Norman trains for Gary and Mary West.

The others are Joe Six Pack, who won the $100,000 Jean Lafitte Futurity last fall at Delta Downs, and Mass Media, who won an allowance by more than 20 lengths last summer at Louisiana Downs.

Norman said Mass Media and Joe Six Pack are in training at a Florida farm and are due to arrive at Oaklawn by the end of February.

Commission changes drug policy

The Arkansas Racing Commission began randomly testing horses for erythropoietin, or EPO, on Sunday in one of several medication policy changes adopted at a meeting last Saturday.

The presence of EPO, a blood-doping agent, is a Class 1 drug violation in Arkansas.

The commission also upgraded the anti-inflammatory dimethyl sulfoxide, or DMSO, from a Class 5 to a Class 4 medication violation and set penalties for the trainers of horses who test positive for milkshakes, a baking soda and water-based remedy designed to delay the build-up of lactic acid in a horse and help him fight fatigue.

Milkshakes can also be used to help a horse ward off dehydration caused by Lasix, which is the only raceday medication that is legal in Arkansas.

Horses who have received milkshakes can be discovered through testing of carbon dioxide levels in the blood. The tests have recently become more refined. Trainers whose horses test positive for receiving milkshakes will be subject to a $1,000 fine for the first offense; $1,500 for the second offense, as well as a suspension of no more than six months; and $2,500 for a third or further offense and a suspension of up to one year. A loss of purse also applies to each offense.

DMSO's classification was upgraded to target intravenous injection of the medication. The threshold levels established are not expected to detect the topical application of DMSO, which is commonly used to increase movement in arthritic joints.

Whiteds flock to winner's circle

There were a whole lot of Whiteds in the winner's circle Sunday. David Whited and his brother Danny Whited, both trainers, each won two races on the 10-race card. David Whited struck first, winning the second race with Cat's Theme ($5.40) and the fifth with Keeponthesunniside ($4.20).

Danny Whited won the sixth with Paloma Parilla ($25), and the 10th with Bold Sterling ($13.20).

The Whited brothers were jockeys before they became trainers. David Whited rode for 36 years and won 3,784 races. Among his biggest wins were the 1975 Arkansas Derby with Promised City. He also rode Staunch Avenger and Nodouble, and now operates a popular training center near Oaklawn.

Skeet headed to Hot Springs

Skeet looked awesome winning the $50,000 King Cotton on Saturday. After a slow start, he put in a sustained bid from the half-mile pole, covering six furlongs in 1:09.38 and earning a 107 Beyer Speed Figure.

"I was worried when he didn't break, but he's done that a time or two on the grass," said trainer Bob Holthus. "He recovered."

The King Cotton was a rare dirt appearance for Skeet, who has developed into a turf specialist. He will stay on dirt for now and be pointed for the $50,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn on March 21, said Holthus.

John McKee rode Skeet, giving him a sweep of the first three stakes of the meet at Oaklawn. All of his stakes winners were trained by Holthus, who leads the standings with six wins in six days of racing at Oaklawn.

McKee also tops the rider standings, with 11 wins through Sunday.

* A trio of 10-year-olds, led by Heavens Throne, finished first, second, and third in the fourth race Saturday. The trifecta, which was completed by Fort Metfield and Carson City Kid, paid $750. The horses were not the oldest in the field. That honor belonged to 11-year-old Timber Ack.