06/22/2004 11:00PM

AB What a Runner back in Idaho


Two-time champion AB What a Runner will be an overwhelming odds-on favorite Sunday to win the Grade 2, $76,590 MBNA America Northwest Challenge for older runners over 440 yards at Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho, the track where she began her career two years ago.

The winner of the MBNA America Northwest Challenge receives a berth in the Grade 1, $300,000 MBNA America Challenge Championship on Nov. 6 at Lone Star Park.

AB What a Runner, who has earned $1,295,329, won her maiden in her career debut at Les Bois Park and then went to Ruidoso Downs and won the Grade 1, $1.9 million All American Futurity to secure the 2002 champion 2-year-old title. In 2003, she won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Derby and the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Handicap on her way to earning champion 3-year-old filly honors.

This year, AB What A Runner is well positioned for another championship run, with a win in the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap on Jan 10 at Los Alamitos.

Also racing on Sunday's card is a three-time stakes winner, Sensual Lady, in the Grade 3, $45,090 Bayer Legend Northwest Challenge for 3-year-olds.

Regal Fly after fifth straight

Regal Fly will seek her fifth win from five starts this year in the Grade 3, $30,240 John Deere New Mexico Challenge for fillies and mares on Saturday at The Downs at Albuquerque.

The 4-year-old Regal Fly won her maiden on Feb. 7 at Sunland Park and has won her three starts since, including the $26,580 La Mariposa Handicap in her most recent start on April 10 at the Ford distance of 400 yards.

Rematch in Berwick Futurity

Streakin Mufassa and Miss Game Aleane are set for a rematch on Saturday night at Delta Downs in the $262,475 Lee Berwick Futurity for Louisiana-breds after finishing just a nose apart in their trial and setting the two fastest qualifying times.

Streakin Mufassa raced the 350 yards in 17.696 seconds in the sixth of seven trials for his second win from three starts.

Miss Game Aleane is making her stakes debut after winning her maiden in her start before the Berwick Futurity trial.

Ramirez wins eight on Sam Houston card

Jockey J.R. Ramirez won eight races on a 16-race card Sunday night at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston. The races were all trials, for both the $52,280 Texas Quarter Horse Association Sires' Cup Derby and the $137,748 TQHA Sires' Cup Futurity.

It is unclear whether Ramirez's feat is a record in Quarter Horse racing. The American Quarter Horse Association, the official breed registry of the sport, keeps jockey statistics, but not by number of wins in a day. No jockey, however, is known to have won eight or more races on a single card at Ruidoso Downs, which has run some marathon trial cards for its prestigious All-American Futurity.

Among jockeys in Thoroughbred racing, three show eight wins on a single day, the most on one day, since 1991. The riders are Travis Dunkelberger, Ken Shino, and Juan Umana.

Ramirez's feat was a record for Sam Houston Race Park. It eclipsed the mark of seven wins on a program set by Austin Lovelace during the track's Thoroughbred meet on Dec. 10, 1994.

Ramirez, 22, is the current leading rider at Sam Houston. Before Sunday night, the most winners he had on a card was five, a feat accomplished at Sam Houston on May 9.