05/23/2006 11:00PM

Costa Rising tops tough allowance


Friday night's $37,000 allowance headliner has a distinctive stakes flavor to it as Costa Rising attempts to duplicate his winning effort in the $50,000 John Franks Memorial Stakes at Louisiana Downs earlier this month. A field of eight will go postward in the third-level allowance, which will be contested at a mile and 70 yards.

Costa Rising has flourished since trainer Joseph Boxie stretched him out around two turns. His win in the Franks Memorial came on the grass, and he led every step of the way, much like the impressive score he had in the start before when he wired an entry-level group of allowance foes at the same distance as Friday's race. Veteran Mario Reyes will once again handle the riding chores.

Krises Bells, who finished a length behind Costa Rising when third in the Franks, makes his second start for trainer Jonas Gibson after being claimed out of an optional $30,000 claiming event here April 5. Prior to changing barns, the gelded son of Kissin Kris scored in a second-level race while going a mile in mid- March. Marlon St. Julien will be in the saddle Friday.

Recent allowance winner Grand Marshall looked good winning for the third time in his last start. The Doris Hebert charge has won 2 of his 3 starts since Hebert added blinkers. Casey Fusilier will ride.

Fairmount track report

Rafael Hernandez and Camilo Pitty, who are atop the jockey standings through two months of action, have twice dominated Fairmount cards over the last two weeks. Hernandez and Pitty combined to win eight of the 10 races run on May 12, and last Thursday they captured seven of the nine races.

Hernandez won the first three races Thursday, with Pitty winning the next three before bagging his fourth winner in the nightcap. Hernandez maintains a 56-40 lead over Pitty through Tuesday, with Danush Sukie third with 39 wins.

* Tunnel Marte ($11.60) pulled off a minor upset in last Saturday's featured $20,020 Battle Cat Handicap for 3-year-olds going six furlongs. In a race that on paper was filled with speed, Tunnel Marte deviated from his normal front-running tendencies and rallied from off the pace to win by 1 1/4 lengths over even-money favorite Mr. Canyon Run.

* Fairmount will have a special afternoon card of racing Monday in observance of Memorial Day with free admission offered. Post time is 1 p.m. Central. Fairmount will be dark on Tuesday, which is normally a live race day.

- Vance Hanson

Finger Lakes track report

Top Shoter, last season's horse of the year at Finger Lakes, is expected to attempt to capture the George Barker Handicap for the third straight year on Monday's Memorial Day program.

The $50,000 Barker, a six-furlong sprint for New York-breds, and the $50,000 Susan B. Anthony for statebred fillies and mares will be run Monday at the western New York oval.

The 7-year-old Top Shoter has made just one start this season, finishing seventh in a six-furlong optional claimer on the turf at Belmont Park.

* Strider's Ormsby, who broke the track record for 1 1/16 miles on closing day last December, went two turns for the first time this season last Sunday. The 5-year-old Strider's Ormsby, ridden by David Rivera for his new trainer, Donna Bireta, scored a one-length victory, paying $9.30.

- Joe DeVivo

Great Lakes Downs track report

Rockem Sockem, the 2005 Michigan horse of the year, rallied from well back for his first victory of the year in an optional claiming race on Monday's card. He tried the same tactic in his 2006 debut on May 6 and was just beaten. Terry Houghton was aboard the 5-year-old gelding, who is owned by Henry Mast and trained by Robert Gorham.

Houghton and Gorham are atop the local standings through May 23. Houghton, a multiple title holder at this western Michigan track, has 18 wins, 10 more than his closest competitors, through nine days of racing.

Gorham leads the trainers' division with 10 wins.

* Trainer Robert Miller, a lineman with the Detroit Lions in the glory days of the 1950's, when they won three titles, is back at the track after undergoing surgery in Detroit.

* Steward Adam Campola attended the Preakness last week, serving in his old capacity there as the clerk of scales.

- C.A. Shoemaker

Lincoln track report

Trainer John Muckey saddled his first career winner Saturday when he sent out Boots a Flyin' to score a $55.20 upset in the fourth race.

Muckey took out his license at Fonner Park and his win came in his third career start; all three have been made by the 5-year-old mare Boots a Flyin', who won a restricted $5,000 claimer Saturday. Muckey is the son of Sally Muckey, who trains Pepper Lang, a stakes winner last year. His win is the first at the meet for the family, which also includes his brother Chris Harris.

* The Memorial Day weekend is highlighted by Monday's $20,000 Big Red Mile Handicap for older statebreds and is expected to bring out High Dice. Trainer Herb Riecken will send out the 11-year-old in search of his fifth win in this race.

High Dice won cosecutive runnings of the Big Red Mile from 1999-2001 and scored again in 2003. Since his 1999 win, he has missed only one edition of this race, the 2004 running when he was taken out of training with a tender ankle. Last year he came up a neck short when third to What About David and entrymate Cassanova Kid, who are both expected to run Monday.

High Dice is one of the top Nebraska-bred earners in training with $320,797 from a record of 20-14-14 in 70 starts.

- Bill Hodtwalker

Penn National track report

Jockey Chris Baker, a Penn National regular since 1981, will be sidelined for several months recuperating from a broken foot sustained in an accident prior to last Saturday night's sixth race.

Despite the injury, Baker retained his mount in the race and finished ninth aboard Mr. New Freedom.

Baker ranks 12th at the meet with 20 wins from 108 mounts.

- Joe DeVivo

River Downs track report

Sybles Angel, scratched from last Saturday's Tomboy Stakes on the turf, opted instead for a second-level statebred allowance on Sunday going six furlongs on the dirt. She had no problems dispensing with that field to win by 7 1/4 lengths as the 3-10 favorite.

A close second in the Glacial Princess Stakes at Beulah in her final start at 2, Sybles Angel has shown marked improvement this year, winning 2 of her 3 starts and losing the other by a neck. Sybles Angel earned a 77 Beyer for her allowance win, and figures as a leading contender for the Queen City Oaks later in the meet.

* One of the most productive trainers at River Downs also has one of the winningest horses in the country. Charlie Lawson, third in the standings through Tuesday with 5 wins from 14 starters, saddled Usher In to his sixth victory in nine starts this season in an $8,000 claimer last Friday.

Usher In, 6, debuted for Lawson on Jan. 16 in a $3,500 maiden claimer at Beulah, a race he won despite not having started since September 2003. Usher In worked his way through the conditioned claiming ranks during the winter and spring at Beulah, and at one point won three in a row, including an open $7,500 claimer.

Usher In is one of four horses in the country with six wins this year. Indy Energy, who won a starter allowance at River earlier in the meet, leads all runners in North America with eight wins this year.

- Vance Hanson