07/24/2001 12:00AM

Triple Card flying off victory in Airline


Triple Card is developing into one of the better six-furlong horses in the region. The colt remained perfect in five starts at the distance last Saturday when he won the $40,000 Airline over some of the top 3-year-old colts at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.

It was Triple Card's sixth win in nine starts, and it might have been his most gritty performance to date. He stalked a fast pace, was hung five wide into the stretch, then went on to a one-length victory. "He impressed me because he overcame adversity," said trainer Eddie Milligan Sr.

Triple Card always seems to run big at six furlongs. He won his debut, which was at six furlongs, by 13 lengths, and this summer won two six-furlong stakes at Lone Star Park, including the $50,000 Carter McGregor over older foes in a track-record time of 1:08.06.

Milligan said Triple Card could make his next start at six furlongs in the $25,000 Alamo Stakes at Retama Park on Aug. 18, but does not believe the colt, who has won at a mile, is limited to sprinting on dirt. As a result, he is considering some two-turn turf races for Triple Card. "He's a runner, and I think runners run on most anything," said Milligan.

Redesign almost ready

Louisiana Downs has made approximately $750,000 in improvements to its second floor, and the redesigned seating area could open as early as Thursday. If not, the floor will be open by the weekend, said Louisiana Downs general manager Ray Tromba.

The facelift is part of an overall renovation in preparation for slot machines at the track. The north end of the new second floor has been outfitted with 268 individual betting stations and two walls of televisions to cater to simulcast players, while the remainder of the floor will focus on live racing. There is a new restaurant and sports bar, and 68 stand-up betting carrels have been placed along the back row of grandstand seats.

Melancon moving in

Louisiana Downs will be seeing a lot more of Gerard Melancon, a longtime leading rider at Evangeline Downs who made his first appearance of the meet last weekend. "From now on this will probably be a part of his circuit," said agent Jerry Harrison. "He came here late last season to try it out and to see if he'd like it here. From here he plans to go to the Fair Grounds, then back to Lone Star."

Melancon rode at Lone Star for the first time this year, and finished sixth in the standings. Later this meet Melancon will travel to Saratoga to ride Bonapaw in the Grade 2 Vanderbilt Handicap on Aug. 5.

* Louisiana Downs expands its race week from four days to five with the addition of Monday racing, beginning July 30. The track plans to run Mondays through October, a departure from last year's schedule when the track raced Mondays only on holidays and in September. Tromba said in addition to more opportunities for horsemen, Monday racing should give Louisiana Downs a chance to capitalize on the offtrack simulcast market with top meets like Saratoga and Del Mar running. "We think that with the late post, we start at 3 p.m., we'll have a primary spot on the simulcast calendar," he said. "We'll be a good fit as a bridge track."

* Midge Too, who won the $40,000 Suthern Accent over six furlongs in her last start, will stretch back out around two turns for the $40,000 Delicada at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 5, said trainer Jerry Cart. Also pointing for the race is Honeymoon winner Nanie's Dinner.