05/17/2005 11:00PM

Testing faces fine-tuning

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The Texas Racing Commission staff on Wednesday began discussing ways to refine testing procedures for alkalizing agents after some horses have tested positive for bicarbonates during the current program, which is being used solely to collect data. The informational testing program began April 30 at Lone Star Park.

Blood samples are drawn from every starter in two randomly selected races each card, but the specimens are not labeled. Changing that protocol, however, along with other aspects of the test, is now being discussed.

"We did get some positive [test] results," said Paula Flowerday, executive director of the racing commission. "Because of the way we structured the initial stage of our investigation, we do not know at this point how widespread the problem is."

The blind blood samples, Flowerday said, do not enable the commission to learn if it is just a handful of the same barns coming up with the positive tests, or if the use of alkalizing agents, which are believed to ward off fatigue, extends further. The tests also need refinement to rule out nutritional supplements that might spike an elevated bicarbonate level.

"At this point, we're looking at what changes need to be made with the investigatory testing protocol to gather additional information to help us determine the appropriate regulatory response," said Flowerday.

A final testing program that would result in disciplinary action for a positive test for an alkalizing agent is still several weeks away, said Flowerday.

The current alkalizing agent testing program at Lone Star is a joint effort among the track, the commission, and the Texas Horsemen's Partnership.

Waupaca eyes Dallas Turf Cup

Waupaca, a four-time stakes winner who captured a $40,000 overnight handicap at Lone Star on May 7, is a candidate for the $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park on June 18, according to his trainer, Donnie Von Hemel.

Waupaca earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 for his two-length win. Overall, he has won 9 of 26 starts and $257,725.

Late fall return for Ole Rebel

Ole Rebel, who was nominated to the $75,000 Ford Express last weekend at Lone Star, has had a setback and will be off for the next few months. He is pointing for a comeback at Fair Grounds this fall, said his trainer, Andrew Leggio Jr.

Ole Rebel won the Thanksgiving Handicap last November at Fair Grounds, and overall has won 9 of 29 races and $330,200. He last raced in April, finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap.

Recent winners clash on turf

Saturday Afternoon and Whiskey for Me, who each won over the Lone Star turf course in their last start, will square off in Friday's third race at Lone Star Park, an entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds on turf. The 7 1/2-furlong race has a purse of $27,500.

Saturday Afternoon won his maiden in his last start, closing from sixth for a head win on April 22. He will break from the rail under Roman Chapa, who has the mount for leading trainer Steve Asmussen.

Whiskey for Me has won his last two starts, an optional claiming race on turf at Sam Houston, and a $30,000 claimer on the grass at Lone Star on April 30. His trainer, Cody Autrey, has given the mount to Glen Murphy.