06/06/2006 11:00PM

Texas-breds next target for talented Venomous

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Trainer Pat Mouton says it is time Venomous returned to his roots.

"He was bred in Texas but has never faced Texas-breds," said Mouton just days after the talented 4-year-old he trains for Gary and Don Holcomb picked up his first stakes score here last Saturday in the $50,000 Kings Court.

Mouton said he intends to run Venomous in the $75,000 Assault at Lone Star on July 8, then return to Louisiana Downs for the Folklore on July 29.

Mouton has been on a tear since the meeting here began in early May, and after Venomous's win, his record of 10 wins from just 29 starts (34 percent) ranked second only to perennial training champ Cole Norman's 12 victories. Mouton also leads Norman in earnings.

"Good horses with good conditions," said the understated Mouton when asked the reason for his hot start.

While Mouton is winning with almost everything he sends out these days, the barn has had a reputation in recent seasons of doing well in the Louisiana-bred ranks.

With the 12-race Louisiana Breeders' Festival scheduled for Aug. 19, Mouton should be well represented once again, with stakes winners Nob Hill Deelite and Hottamolly among others.

Grand Facile tops feature

Friday's $30,000 optional claiming feature drew a competitive group of eight statebred fillies and mares. The seven-furlong race is the 10th of 11 races and carries a $33,000 purse.

Grand Facile rates as the one to beat after finishing fourth in the Fantasia Stakes in her most recent start. She broke in the air that day before staging a mild rally on the outside in her first start since finishing second in the $100,000 Louisiana Premier Starlet Stakes at Evangeline Downs on Feb. 18. The 3-year-old Grand Facile won her maiden here on Jan. 15 and only a week later captured the $104,000 Crescent Oaks. Trainer James Hodges has given Tracy Hebert the return call.

Midnight Delight, never worse than second in four tries at Friday's distance, rates as Grand Facile's primary rival. The 5-year-old Midnight Delight is seeking to break a winless drought that dates back to the 2004 season. During that time, she has finished second five times. Gerard Melancon will ride.