03/08/2006 12:00AM

Apprentice sits with sizeable lead


If anyone is going to whittle down the huge lead in the Laurel Park jockey standings forged by 18-year-old apprentice Rosie Napravnik, this is the week to do so.

Napravnik, who came into Wednesday's program 27 wins ahead of her closest competitor, Erick Rodriguez, is sitting out a five-day suspension for careless riding that extends through Sunday's program.

Before departing, Napravnik solidified her grip as the meet's leading rider by collecting four wins last Friday. It was the fourth time this year she has ridden four winners on a card.

Overall, Napravnik has 62 wins this year, with at least one victory in 31 of 42 live days of racing in 2006 and 20 multiple-win days.

Recently, the much-in-demand apprentice has been accepting mounts in nearly every race run at Laurel. She averaged nearly eight rides per day over the last five racing cards before her suspension began.

Napravnik was penalized by the stewards for allowing her mount, Valentino D'oro, to drift in and jostle Demi Is Smooth in the second race last Thursday.

* Jockey Luis Garcia, 21, collected the 500th winner of his career when he scored with Take a Check in last Friday's fourth race.

* Ameri Dream ($2.80) remained the king of the long-distance starter handicap division at Laurel by winning his fourth straight race last Thursday. Eligible for starter series at almost every conceivable level after running twice for a $3,000 claiming price at Charles Town last summer, the 6-year-old Ameri Dream has now won twice at Penn National and twice at Laurel since late November.

Evangeline Downs

Jockey Kim McIntosh, seriously injured in a spill in the fourth race at Evangeline Downs on Feb. 23, has taken a major step forward in her recovery, according to family members. McIntosh, of Vinton, La., was awake and alert Sunday morning, a week and a half after suffering a fractured skull.

McIntosh was aboard Scotties Abity in a $12,500 claiming affair when her mount went down, throwing her to the ground. She remains at Lafayette General Hospital, where she has been since the accident.

- Jeff Taylor

Fonner Park

Following on the heels of a weekend stakes double Feb. 25 and 26, jockey Larren Delorme has continued on a roll. Last Sunday he closed fonner Park's fourth weekend of racing with a five-win day to move into second in the rider standings.

Delorme swept the early daily double with wins on Family Fewd ($7) and Xtwo ($5.40), then picked up the mount on victorious Indigo Creek ($4.60) in the third after Dennis Collins injured his ankle in the previous race. He won again aboard Please Louie ($7.60) in the sixth race then closed out the day by scoring on another mount picked up from Collins, Carissa's Shine ($9.80) in the 10th.

Collins aggravated the ankle that was broken late last year at the Fairplay Park meet in Hastings, Neb., and was to resume riding this weekend. Collins is fourth in the rider standings with nine wins, while R. D. Williams leads the way with 15.

David Anderson has amassed an 11-4 edge over Kim Veerhusen in the trainer standings early in the season from his 41 starters. More than 50 percent of Anderson's runners have been in the money.

- Bill Hodtwalker

Turf Paradise

Things don't always go according to plan, but the sign of a top jockey is when he or she can adjust quickly - like, say, in a split-second during a race. Well, Glenn Corbett is a good jockey, and his sharpness helped get Corazondelcampeon into the winner's circle in last Sunday's $40,000 Palo Verde Handicap at Turf Paradise.

"He didn't break well, and we weren't where we wanted to be early," said Corbett, 41. "So we had to go to Plan B."

Plan B turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Corbett and Santa Anita shipper Corazondelcampeon (the name translates from Spanish as "heart of a champion"), as fellow West Coast shipper and 4-5 favorite Rattlesnake Joe, with Scotts Stevens up, got caught on the outside of pacesetters Pistol Creek, Ibetiwin, and Flying Jim.

"We rode the rail behind the speed horses battling in front us," said Corbett. "It is the shortest way to the finish line."

For Corazondelcampeon, it was his first victory since an ultra-impressive debut maiden win at Hollywood Park last May a week after running off in the post parade and having to be scratched out of what was to be his debut in the May 22 Willard Proctor. Then he was entered in the Haggin Stakes at Hollywood in mid-June only to see that race scrapped because of a lack of entries.

Then came a splint bone injury that prevented him from making the Hollywood Juvenile. When he did resurface, in Del Mar's Grade 2 Best Pal, he dueled for the lead and fizzled behind the enormously talented What a Song.

Another layoff ensued, and then came three straight dull outings at Santa Anita this winter. Trainer John Johnson then purchased him from owner Scott Merrell, and moved Corazondelcampeon from David La Croix's barn to his care. This victory may mean the one-time promising runner is back on track.

- Michael Hammersly