10/14/2003 11:00PM

Walk in the Snow out until next year

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Walk in the Snow, a top Louisiana-bred who was noticeably absent during last Saturday's Breeders' Festival Louisiana Downs, will not return to competition until next year, said his trainer, Herman Taylor.

Walk in the Snow was preparing for a start in the $75,000 Shiskabob when he was found to have a bone chip in his right knee. He recently had minor surgery, and is recuperating at Taylor's farm in Louisiana.

"The surgery went good and he's home resting," said Taylor, who trains Walk in the Snow for his wife, Ginger. "He could come back in 120 days, but we're going to wait and bring him back at this time next year. We want to give him a whole year off."

Walk in the Snow, a gelding who has earned $451,650, won the Breeders' Derby in last year's Festival, and from there went on to win the $150,000 Classic on Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds.

The Breeders' Festival was held on one program this year instead of two. The change was made to accommodate breeders, and to "deliver a power-packed day" for patrons, said Ray Tromba, vice president of racing operations at Louisiana Downs.

Handle on the Festival was $2,175,913, and officials were pleased with how the program was received. I thought [Saturday] delivered on all accounts," said Tromba.

As for the scheduling of the 2004 Festival, plans are still pending.

"We haven't decided anything yet, but my feeling is I would certainly look at doing it the same way again next year," said Tromba.

Average handle per day at Louisiana Downs is $2,605,937 this meet, up more than 13 percent over 2002.

Stable area to shut down Nov. 24

Louisiana Downs will break from the norm this off-season when it closes its stable area on Nov. 24. The meet will end on Nov. 9, and the Louisiana Downs backstrtech traditionally remains open for training. But this year, maintenance projects and other improvements are planned to prepare for the track's expanded season of racing in 2004.

Among the tasks to be done are the cleaning of drainage ditches, and various landscaping and painting projects, Tromba said.

To help accommodate horsemen, Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., has agreed to open its stable area on Nov. 24, which is earlier than usual. Oaklawn 's first day of training will be Dec. 1.

The stable area at Louisiana Downs will reopen on March 28, the day after the close of Fair Grounds.

A new track in Texas?

Sam Houston Race Park plans to ask the Texas Racing Commission on Tuesday to consider a license application for a Class 2 racetrack in Laredo, Texas. Sam Houston would manage the yet-to-be constructed facility, with preliminary plans calling for 50 to 100 race dates a year for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.

Investors in the track have not been revealed. At the earliest, the facility would open in 2005.

The first step in the long application process will occur Tuesday, when Sam Houston asks the commission to "open an application period" for racetrack license requests in Webb County, which is the home of Laredo.

Sam Houston is familiar with the area. Last year, the track served as consultants to horsemen Keith and Marilyn Asmussen, who were exploring the idea of opening a track in their hometown of Laredo.

Mass Media possible for Jackpot

The next-race plans for promising 2-year-old colt Mass Media have yet to be determined, but he is being considered for the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs on Dec. 5, said his trainer, Cole Norman.

Mass Media won his debut and an allowance by a combined 33 lengths before finishing 10th in the Grade 2, $400,000 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in his last start Oct. 4.

"I'm throwing that race out," said Norman. "There are ones that run on that track, and others that don't."

Mass Media races for Gary and Mary West, as does Joe Six Pack, who in his last start won the $40,000 Minstrel at Louisiana Downs and earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. Norman said Joe Six Pack is being pointed for the $100,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta on Nov. 8.

Wacky Patty, another talented 2-year-old trained by Norman, will make her next start in the $75,000 Chargedupsycamore at Delta on Nov. 7. That race serves as a prep for the $250,000 Delta Princess on Dec. 5. Wacky Patty races for Turf Express.

Norman said that for the first time he plans to send a string of 18 to 20 horses to Delta.

* Got darts? They might be needed to figure out the featured 10th race on Friday, a six-furlong optional claimer that drew nine well-matched horses, including Crap Shooter, High Cascade, and Ole Rebel.