Updated on 09/16/2011 6:48AM

Dove Creek faces far weaker foes


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Dove Creek, who finished second to the stakes-bound Powder in her most recent start, is a standout in the featured eighth race Wednesday at Oaklawn Park. The six-furlong entry-level allowance has drawn eight fillies and mares, and is worth $27,000.

Dove Creek met winners for the first time in an Oaklawn allowance Jan. 27, and was beaten a length by Powder in what remains one of the fastest six-furlong races of the meet. Following the race, Powder's connections said she could turn up in the $50,000 Spring Fever here March 10.

Before the Oaklawn allowance, Dove Creek won her maiden by 12 1/4 lengths at Turfway Park Dec. 8.

"She ran a super, super race that day," said James Lopez, the leading jockey at Oaklawn and regular rider on Dove Creek. "I never moved on her."

Dove Creek worked four furlongs in a sharp 48.20 in her final prep for Wednesday, and has the confidence of her trainer, Dave Vance.

"She's going to go through her conditions pretty fast," said Vance.

Lopez leads pack

Lopez won six races over four days of racing last week, including the $50,000 American Beauty with Spanish Glitter Saturday, to remain atop the local standings. He has 12 wins, one more than Terry Thompson, who had a four-bagger last Sunday.

Lopez won the riding title at the recent holiday meet at Turfway Park. Although a regular in Kentucky, he has ridden at Louisiana Downs (where he won the title in 1998), Remington Park, and Lone Star Park. Riding at several tracks has served him well considering the melting pot of stables that race at Oaklawn.

"I've got a good mixture of clients," said Lopez. "I've got a lot of business from Kentucky, and all the contacts I've made in the past from other places I've rode, that has helped me in all aspects of Oaklawn."

Among trainers, one of Lopez's biggest supporters this meet has been Vance.

"I've always liked him," the trainer said. "He's just a good kid, and he's a very hard worker."

Lopez guided the 3-year-old Medaglia D'oro to victory for Vance last Saturday. His other choice mounts this meet include Spanish Glitter, who is pointing to the Spring Fever, and Crafty Shaw, who is eyeing the $75,000 Essex on Feb. 23.

* The minimum number of betting interests required in most instances for trifecta wagering has been reduced from seven to six by the Arkansas Racing Commission. In special instances, trifecta wagers on races with five betting interests will be accepted at Oaklawn.

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