05/25/2004 11:00PM

Bennetts saddle 5 of 8 in Great Lakes stakes


MUSKGEON, Mich. - Gold Ginny is one of four 3-year-old fillies leading trainer Gerald Bennett will saddle in the $40,000 Regret Stakes on Friday evening at Great Lakes Downs. The six-furlong race, the first stakes race of the season, attracted a field of eight Michigan-breds, all of whom will carry 121 pounds.

Besides Gold Ginny, Bennett entered Zosia's Genius, Deb's Favorite Gift, and Stylish Factor. Bennett's son, Dale, also has an entrant, Cats Copy. All have different owners and will race as separate interests.

Gold Ginny won one of two divisions of the Michigan Juvenile Fillies last year. She won her first start here this season and then finished second on May 14 when she was steadied late and lost her momentum. Terry Houghton will break Gold Ginny, the morning-line favorite, from post 2.

Cats Copy, owned by David Mitchell, won the other division of the Michigan Juvenile Fillies last October. In her only start since, she won an optional claiming race at Hawthorne. Eddie Perez will come in to ride Cats Copy from post 4.

* Houghton missed the first seven days of the Great Lakes Downs meet but wasted no time playing catch-up in the jockey standings. In the next 13 days he posted 19 wins to tie Bobby Lester for second place. Freddie Mata leads with 24 wins.

A riding triple on Monday's card and a double on a weather-shortened Friday card have helped Houghton rebound at the track where he had not ridden since a life-threatening injury in August 2002. He won meet honors despite missing the last two months of the season that year. Houghton returned to riding last December at Tampa Bay Downs.

Gerald Bennett leads the trainer standings with 17 victories. Ronnie Allen has won 11 times at a nearly 50 percent clip.

* Lightning forced the cancellation of Friday's last two races as severe weather, with record rainfall, came to western Michigan. It caused flooding and power outages throughout the area.

* A bowling and euchre tournament raised more than $500 to help pay for an "English as a second language" course for backstretch workers, which is sponsored by the Michigan Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.