08/02/2006 12:00AM

Trying to stay in race shape for big day

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - With Louisiana Downs Champions Day on Aug. 19 rapidly approaching, the last week or so has been the time to think about final preparations for the 12-race megacard - or not.

Our Love, the defending champion in the Matchmaker, looked dominant when he defeated five rivals in an allowance last Sunday, picking up her second win of the meeting. She appears ready to defend her crown for trainer Jeff Trosclair.

Zarb's Dahar, the reigning horse of the meeting, has been sitting on a race for about a week now in preparation for the Cajun Stakes, but trainer James Hodges has been unable to get a race to fill. His latest disappointment came this past Sunday, when Hodges entered Zarb's Dahar in a Friday race that drew only three other entries and was called off by racing secretary Tony Patterson.

"I could have written the race back three or four more times and it still wouldn't have filled," said Patterson.

"It looks like I will have to bring him up to the race on works alone," Hodges said of Zarb's Dahar, who has won the last two runnings of the Cajun but has spent the last six months on the sidelines because of a chronic quarter crack.

The next big event on the calendar following Champions Day is the the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby, which will be run at 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 23. Early bird nominations of $250 are due this Saturday. The next nomination deadline will be Sept. 9, when the nomination fee increases to $1,000.

Tromba named GM of Boardwalk

Ray Tromba, who in February resigned from his position as vice president and director of racing operations at Louisiana Downs, was named this week as general manager of the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City. The Louisiana Boardwalk is a retail and entertainment district that opened just over a year ago.

Matchmaker hopefuls meet

Friday's featured second-level allowance test may provide Our Love with some company in the Matchmaker on Champions Day.

The Louisiana-bred stakes performers Bonita's Reinbeau, Scott's Doll, and Miriam L. could make their next start in the Matchmaker with a good effort Friday.