02/07/2003 1:00AM

Sure Shot Biscuit training for another year


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Sure Shot Biscuit, who ranks as the all-time richest Iowa-bred with earnings of $1,002,019, returned to training Friday at Oaklawn Park. He is expected to make a comeback in May, said trainer Kelly Von Hemel.

Sure Shot Biscuit, 7, gets time off each winter, and this season is returning to training a little later than usual. He last raced in September, when he finished second, beaten a neck, in an optional claimer at Prairie Meadows.

"Now that he's a little older, we gave him more time," said Von Hemel.

Sure Shot Biscuit has won 12 stakes and 23 races overall in his career. He will be pointed for some restricted stakes at Prairie Meadows later this season, said Von Hemel.

Sure Shot Biscuit is one of 10 horses Von Hemel has at Oaklawn in his first season as a trainer here. Von Hemel, the son of longtime trainer Don Von Hemel, also has a division

at Fonner Park in Nebraska, which opened Friday.

Ruling Star making seasonal debut

Ruling Star, who won four straight races while climbing the class ladder last year at Louisiana Downs, will make his first start since November in the featured ninth race, a 5 1/2-furlong allowance worth $34,000.

Ruling Star almost had a perfect meet at Louisiana Downs. He won a conditioned claimer in August in his first start of the meet, and from there won three more races against steeper competition before closing out his campaign there with a sharp second-place finish to Donna's Mailbag in the $30,000 Excalibur on Nov. 2.

Leading trainer Cole Norman, who has started the meet quickly with eight wins from 24 starters, has given the mount to Jamie Theriot.

Hot Springs next for Chindi?

Trainer Steve Hobby has not yet made next-race plans for Chindi, who finished a game second in his 9-year-old debut Wednesday, but said the gelding is a under consideration for the $50,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn on March 23.

Chindi, a deep closer, rallied against a slow pace for second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by the wire-to-wire winner, That Tat, in the six-furlong optional claimer Wednesday.

"I thought he ran a tremendous race," said Hobby. "It set up terrible for him. Usually, when they go a half in 46, he doesn't get anything."

Chindi's cause wasn't helped when Slider, who would have contributed to the pace, scratched from the race.

Roxelana back after brief break

Roxelana, who won the first four starts of her career in 2000 by a combined 29 lengths, including the Grade 3 La Troienne, returned to training last week from a brief vacation. She should make a couple of starts at the meet, said trainer Blackie Huffman.

"We gave her a month off, just freshened her up," said Huffman, who is based at Oaklawn for the first time since 1991.

Roxelana, 6, has won two of her last three starts, with her most recent victory coming at Churchill Downs in an optional claimer Nov. 8. Overall, she has won six of her 10 starts and $242,526 for her owner, William Landes.

Training and racing return

Training, as well as live racing, resumed on Friday after being canceled Thursday because of a snowstorm. The cancellation was the fourth of the meet, which was pushed back a week to a Jan. 31 opening because of a frozen racing surface.

The track was rated good for the first race Friday, when the sky was sunny and the temperature 35 degrees. Officials expected to race Saturday and Sunday, when the temperature was to warm up to the 40's.

Despite the cancellations, Oaklawn's business has been solid. Handle on the track's live races and incoming simulcasts over the first three days of the meet this year was $17 million, compared with $15.2 million in 2002.

- Padlock, who finished third to Beau's Town in the $50,000 King Cotton on Feb. 1, is a candidate for the Hot Springs, said trainer James Jones, the former Frank Brothers assistant who is in his first season at Oaklawn.