10/16/2002 11:00PM

When he's fresh, Oak Hall is dangerous


Oak Hall does not run often, but when he does, he makes it count. A winner of 15 races in 35 starts, the 6-year-old Oak Hall will make his first start in two months Saturday in the $60,000 Shiskabob at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race is one of four stakes on the card restricted to Louisiana-breds, with purses for the races, all for males, totaling $190,000. A second round of statebred stakes for fillies and mares will be run Sunday.

Oak Hall, one of the top Louisiana-breds in training, is a layoff specialist. Last year, he returned from a seven-week vacation to win the $150,000 Classic on Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds.

This year, Oak Hall came back from a near two-month break to win the $30,000 Evangeline Sprint Handicap on June 22. He returned to action six weeks later, and won another stakes when he was placed first in the $75,000 Evangeline Mile because of interference from winner Compendium.

Oak Hall was beaten a neck on Aug. 17, the last time he started.

"The horse has showed in the past that he runs his best races off at least five to six weeks' rest," said Keith Bourgeois, who has recently taken over the training of Oak Hall because his former trainer, Doyle Wardrop, has moved to Oklahoma.

"Doyle has filled me in on how he trained the horse, and we're following the same tactics."

Oak Hall, a winner of $489,232 for owner Ena Ortego, is to be ridden by Kerwin Clark.

Bourgeois said one of the chief threats to Oak Hall will be stakes-winning turf specialist Coach Rags. Another to consider is One Brick Shy, who was second in the Classic last December.

* Walk in the Snow, who in his last start was second in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby, should love the return to the statebred ranks in the $60,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby.

"We couldn't ask for anything better than that," said Herman Taylor, who trains Walk in the Snow for his wife, Ginger. "And he came back beautiful after the [last] race."

Herman Taylor likes how Walk in the Snow has matured this year and is also pleased with how well he has made the transition to route racing in his last two starts. Kirk LeBlanc will again ride.

* Leading rider Gerard Melancon has the call on Mighty Merlin in the $35,000 Stardust. The six-furlong race for 2-year-olds also drew powerful maiden winners Meteor Impact and Witt Ante.

* Bet Me Best takes on Donna's Mailbag, a 3-year-old who has won his last three starts in dominant fashion, in the $35,000 Cajun. The six-furlong race also drew Doctor Mike, who in his last start won the $30,000 Island Whirl Handicap.