05/28/2009 11:00PM

Ask Queenie ready to run at age 8


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - The Massachusetts-bred Ask Queenie will return for an 8-year-old campaign this year at Suffolk Downs.

The hard-knocking winner of $627,285 during her 52-race career is "doing very good" after a seven-month vacation, according to owner Laurine Barreira. Barreira should know because she has been left in charge of Ask Queenie by her mother, trainer Lori Lockhart.

Barreira, 21, trained her family's small string of horses at Tampa Bay Downs this winter, but Ask Queenie's races this spring will be under Lockhart's name. Lockhart has 497 wins to her credit, although she won 26 races when using her married name in the 1980s.

Ask Queenie won just once last year - the Thomas Moran Stakes in October - but there was no doubt about bringing the mare back for another year.

"She's had the chance to get the winter off the last few years, and that plan has gone well," Barreira said. "There just aren't many races for her that go, so she has to be in races against the boys or go out of town. She still loves it."

Lockhart's plans for both Ask Queenie and her daughter have been successful. Barreira's trip to Tampa was a chance to see life in the real world of horse racing.

"It was eye-opening," Barreira said. "I guess I never really expected all the work that goes into it. When Mom was in charge, I could pick what days I came to the barn. In Tampa, it was just me and the hotwalker. I think Mom wanted me to see that and go back to school."

Barreira is currently in community college and plans on enrolling at Bridgewater State to become a teacher. However, she says she will always be involved with racing.

Ask Queenie has been entered in three races that have failed to fill this spring. Barreira said she would like to get a prep race into her but could go straight into the Rise Jim Stakes against males on June 27.

Bishop's passing leaves void

When Suffolk handicapper Jim Bishop died last week at 56 after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer, the track lost one of its last links to a bygone era in New England racing.

"Bish" literally worked his way from the spit box to the press box, starting in the testing barn in 1978 and eventually landing jobs working for the track and area newspapers. He was quiet but witty during a time when the press box was jammed with a boisterous crowd of turf writers.

"I first met him at Rockingham in 1991," said T.D. Thornton, Suffolk's track announcer and former publicity director. "Jim said barely three sentences to me that first afternoon. But after a week or so, I learned that when Bish did speak, what came out of his mouth was either hilarious, profound, or both."

Bishop had a loyal following in the region and saw virtually every Suffolk race since the track reopened in 1992. He also was very influential to the numerous publicists he worked with.