02/08/2002 12:00AM

Cojet, World Champion lead pack


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The featured allowance at Oaklawn Park on Sunday has drawn five stakes winners, but it appears the key contenders in the race are two colts who have yet to take down a stakes purse: Cojet, second as the favorite in last month's $50,000 Mountain Valley, and World Champion, runner-up in the $47,000 Prevue last out at Turfway Park.

Cojet is the one to beat in the six-furlong race for 3-year-olds based on his strong second place finish in the Mountain Valley. He bobbled at the start and raced wide in that race to finish three-quarters of a length behind winner Richest Half, who is headed to the local Southwest Stakes on March 2.

Before the Mountain Valley, Cojet finished third in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl. A stalker, he will have to run down World Champion on Sunday. World Champion used his front-running tactics to win an optional claiming race at Hawthorne Race Course by 9 3/4 lengths on Dec. 15.

In his next start, World Champion finished second after setting all the pace in the Prevue, which was won by Perfect Drift, who returned in his next start to run second to Request for Parole in the $50,000 WEBN Frog at Turfway on Feb. 2.

World Champion shipped to Oaklawn for the Mountain Valley, but missed the race because of a slight cold. He has since trained well for his local bow, and figures to be setting the pace from his rail post on Sunday.

"He's got a lot of speed," said William "Jack" Deakins, assistant to trainer Bernie Flint. "He's a very, very fast horse."

James Lopez will ride World Champion. Terry Thompson has the mount on Cojet.

Others adding to the field's depth are Explosive Truth, winner of the $100,000 Middleground last summer at Lone Star Park near Dallas and April's Lucky Boy, winner of the $50,000 Oklahoma Classics Day Juvenile last fall at Remington Park.

First could produce starters for Essex

The first race Sunday is the richest on the card, and has drawn horses pointing for the Grade 3, $75,000 Essex here on Feb. 23. Unrullah Bull appears to be the one to beat in the 1 1/16-mile optional claiming race, which carries a purse of $35,000.

In his last start, Unrullah Bull finished second, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Remington Rock, in a money allowance on Jan. 27. That was his first start since Sept. 14, when he finished second, beaten a half-length by Mr Ross, in the $75,000 Silver Bullet Centennial Handicap at Remington Park. Leading trainer Cole Norman has given the mount to Anthony Lovato.

Prather wins first race at Oaklawn

Apprentice Kris Prather won her first race at the Oaklawn meet Friday when she guided Glitter Music ($13.60) to a nine-length win in the first race, a $25,000 claimer for fillies and mares. She rode the winner for owner Robert Mitchell Trust and trainer Randy Morse.

Prather, who is an Eclipse Award finalist for apprentice honors, is riding at Oaklawn for the first time after being a dominant force at Turfway Park.

* The two $182,026 winning tickets on Thursday's pick six at Oaklawn were sold in Las Vegas and at Penn National in Grantville, Pa. There was a six-day carryover of $144,040 heading into the races Thursday, while another $371,328 was bet on the day's pick six, making a total pool of $515,368.

* Services for Art Smith, a longtime Oaklawn racetracker and former jockey agent to Don Howard, are to be held Monday at Caruth-Hale Funeral Home in Hot Springs. Smith died last Tuesday after a long illness. He was 81.

* Gigi's Skyflyer, a half-sister to $548,620-earned Voladora, returns from a brief freshening in Sunday's 10th race, a six-furlong maiden special weight worth $26,000.