09/07/2004 11:00PM

Columbus track report

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COLUMBUS, Neb. - The race for leading rider at Columbus will come down to the closing weekend with a four- or five-way stretch run.

Filmer Munaylla, sidelined by a broken bone in his lower leg, still holds the lead with 32 wins, but it seems likely that any of four riders still active are in reach of the title. Jerry Carkeek opens the weekend with 25 wins, Armando Martinez is next with 24, and Dennis Collins has 23 with just 27 races left in the meet. Dan Beck, who last week posted doubles on four days, is next with 19 wins.

Scotty Nguyen, next in the standings with 18 wins, did not arrive to fulfill his mounts last weekend and, as of Monday, had not been in contact with the stewards or his agent.

Nguyen's absence and the aggravation of a foot injury to Dennis Collins once again left trainers scrambling to find riders last weekend. Friday's final race saw just seven riders available and resulted in scores of scratches on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday cards for lack of riders. By Monday the colony was back up to 10 riders, but Collins could not finish out the day, still complaining of foot problems.

David Anderson has all but wrapped up the trainer title with his 22 wins for the meet, but the race for second will likely come down to the final day. Marv Johnson sent out four winners last weekend to move into a tie for second with Gene DeRoin at 10 wins each. Jim Compton is right behind with nine wins, and Bill Conyers sent out a trio of winners last weekend to round out the top five with seven wins.

A pair of 2-year-old races for Nebraska-breds at six furlongs, the $12,500-added Columbus Debutante and Columbus Juvenile, will close the season Sunday. Nominations were light, with the Juvenile drawing just six and the Debutante seven. If the two cannot fill separately, the track is considering combining the two races, with a purse yet to be determined.