09/27/2001 12:00AM

Death overshadows rousing meet


SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - From the death of leading rider Isiah Sala to the 14-race win streak by rider Tim Moccasin, the 2001 meeting at Marquis Downs will not soon be forgotten.

Sala, a 23-year-old native of New Jersey, was enjoying great success in his first year here and was 12 wins ahead of his closest rival when the unthinkable occurred.

On Aug. 17 Sala's mount, Twilight Deputy, clipped heels and Sala was thrown to the track. He was pronounced dead from massive head injuries about six hours later, without regaining consciousness.

Sala's 53 wins from 155 mounts was enough to win the riding title. Hugh Huston finished second with 45 wins, while 2000 leader Walter Ramos Jr. was third with 44.

While Sala's death put a pall on proceedings, rider Tim Moccasin began a North American record win streak on the next racing day.

Moccasin won the last three races Aug. 22, swept the next day's seven-race card, and won with his first four mounts Sept. 1, for a total of 14 straight wins. He finished the meet with 31 wins from 90 mounts.

Tom Gardipy Jr. repeated as leading trainer with 33 wins. Fern Zdunick was next with 22 wins.

The meet's top money-earning horse was Red Vil Do, with $23,691. He won four races in nine starts, highlighted by a win in the Saskatchewan Derby.

Classy Lad was the meet's winningest horse, with seven wins from 10 starts.

Handle on the 42 days of live racing was up 6.4 percent from a year earlier and totaled $648,147.

Attendance figures are not kept by the track.