07/03/2007 11:00PM

Big day for Mata, Bennett


Freddie Mata has taken over the top spot in the 2007 rider standings at Great Lakes Downs. Mata, a native of Mexico, has won 37 races through 30 days of racing, including a riding double for trainer Gerald Bennett on Tuesday.

Bennett scored a hat trick when he won the first race with Ernie Cat, the sixth with Straight Glitter, and the eighth with Circe. Mata was aboard Ernie Cat and Straight Glitter while Felipe Santos rode Circe. Bennett, the defending training champion, remains in second place with 19 victories, and is winning at a 35-percent clip. Bob Gorham, a Kalamazoo veterinarian, leads the field with 22 wins. Bennett divides his stable between here and Thistledown, with forays into Illinois and West Virginia.

* Jennifer Rupert, an exercise rider and assistant to her husband, trainer John Rupert, has received her juris doctorate from the University of Michigan. Rupert, who interned at a Lexington, Ky., law firm last summer, is expecting the couple's first child in early 2008.

* Purses have been raised 10 percent starting with Monday's card. Also starting Monday, weekday first post time will be 4:50 p.m. Eastern. Saturday post time remains at 6:30 p.m.