06/26/2008 11:00PM

Burgess enjoys something old, something new


Mike Burgess won his first stakes race as a trainer last weekend at Louisiana Downs with Love to Tell, but she was far from his first stakes winner. Burgess rode Quarter Horses for 12 years, and during that time won his fair share of stakes, among his mounts such class runners as Strawfly Special and Gamblin on Sin.

"She's the first stakes winner I haven't sat on," said Burgess.

Burgess saddled his first winner as a trainer at Louisiana Downs in 2005, and Love to Tell was his fifth stakes starter. She won the $50,000 Little Treasure for 3-year-old fillies at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf last Saturday. Love to Tell won by 2 1/4 lengths over stakes winner Euphony, and earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 88.

"She kind of sat right off of them and punched home like you like a young filly to do," said Burgess. "She's got a lot of good qualities about her."

Burgess said Mark Feld, who owns Love to Tell, claimed her for $16,000 out of her debut because of her family tree. She is by Stage Colony, a son of Pleasant Colony. Love to Tell's dam is Kentucky Whisper, an unraced daughter of Southern Halo who is a half-sister to Setareh, a multiple stakes winner who in her final start was third in the Grade 1 Vanity.

"He does a heck of a job researching pedigree," Burgess said of Feld.

Burgess, 40, is the son of Jerry Burgess, a top Quarter Horse jockey who now works as a steward in Texas. During his riding career, the younger Burgess rode mostly Quarter Horses, at tracks in California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Burgess rode until 1995, then spent the next 10 years honing his training skills under noted horsemen Jack Van Berg, Steve Asmussen, and Kenny Smith.

"I really felt like I put in a lot of college hours," Burgess said of his ground experience. "And I had the benefit of being closely associated with a lot of nice horses."

Love to Tell leads a stable of 22 horses Burgess has at Louisiana Downs. He said she is scheduled to make her next start in the $50,000 Marie P. DeBartolo Oaks at a mile on turf at Louisiana Downs on July 19.

Steamy Ridge targets Turf Amazon

Steamy Ridge, who has turned in two strong turf sprint wins at the meet, will seek a third victory at five furlongs on turf in the third race Sunday. The allowance will serve as her springboard to the $75,000 Hallowed Dreams Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs on July 19.

"Down the road, we're also looking at the Turf Amazon," said her trainer, Wes Hawley. "That's the primary goal this year."

The $200,000 Turf Amazon is for fillies and mares at five furlongs on turf at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 27.

Steamy Ridge has never lost on turf. Her first turf win came in the $50,000 Incredible Ease at Louisiana Downs on May 17. In her most recent out, she earned a career-best Beyer of 97 when she won a turf sprint allowance over multiple stakes winner Smitty's Sunshine on June 7. Don Simington was aboard for both wins and has the mount Sunday.

P. Val spends weekend at SunRay

Jockey Pat Valenzuela, who is based at Louisiana Downs, is riding at SunRay Park in Farmington, N.M., all weekend. Valenzuela has mounts in several stakes at the track, which is wrapping up its mixed meet. This is the second straight weekend Valenzuela has ridden at SunRay.

He said last weekend that he went there at the invitation of some owners. While at the track, he had a five-win day June 22.

* Jockey Francisco Torres was five wins away from career victory 2,000 heading into the races Friday.