06/05/2001 11:00PM

DRF's around the ovals

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Two wins in five days to prep for Crown

SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Cleat, a 5-year-old gelding owned and trained by Jerry Dobbs, served notice that he will be a major factor in the Claiming Crown when he won for the second time in just five days last weekend at Canterbury Park.

Cleat bested a field of eight other rivals Saturday in a one-mile starter allowance turf race, one of several races held for locally based horses who are being pointed for the $550,000 Claiming Crown here Aug. 4., while giving the impression he had something left in the tank.

In his previous start, Cleat collared last year's Claiming Crown Jewel runner-up, Shot of Gold, to win a six-furlong starter allowance Memorial Day by daylight. Rider Tho Nguyen was reunited with Cleat for the first time in two years at the start of the meet and has been aboard for both victories. Nguyen, an improving rider, might be the key to his mount's best

performances, having guided Cleat to five of his seven career victories.

o Trainer Vincent Reedy, who alternates between Canterbury and Tampa Bay Downs, made a rally of sorts when he saddled Top Senor last Sunday. Reedy was taken to St. Francis Hospital several days earlier after he was kicked and then dragged by one of his horses. Top Senor made up for all that, winning a one-mile turf allowance from post 12.

- David M. Miller

Fairmount Park

COLLINSVILLE, Ill - Jockey Cynthia Medina, out since undergoing emergency surgery in mid-April to remove an ovarian cyst, returned to riding last weekend at Fairmount Park and had her first winner in Saturday's second aboard J. C.'s Dream.

Medina, who last year set the single-season record for victories by a female rider at Fairmount with 58, had been getting on horses for several weeks to get ready for her comeback. Fittingly, J. C.'s Dream was trained by Medina's first-call client, Eddie Essenpreis.

- Rod Peck

Great Lakes Downs

MUSKEGON, Mich. - Great Lakes Downs topped the $1 million mark in wagering on its races for the first time on May 30. Track management decided not to race on Memorial Day, May 28, and instead raced on Wednesday, sending its signal out on a day on which few tracks were racing. Betting on Great Lakes Downs's races was $1,104,066 for the nine-race card.

* Terry Houghton, who last year led the jockey standings at Great Lakes and was second nationally in wins until injuries sidelined him in October, won 16 races during the week to distance himself from the field. He leads the standings with 48 wins, to Freddie Mata's 34. Houghton had three triples and won four races Tuesday. Last Saturday, Luis Martinez Jr. turned in a four-bagger of his own. He is tied for sixth in the jockey standings.

* Pedro Martinez saddled three winners on May 30, the most in one day by a trainer at the meet.

- C.A. Shoemaker

Lincoln State Fair

LINCOLN, Neb. - Last Sunday's cancellation after the fourth race at the Lincoln State Fair added another twist to the puzzling racing surface here.

Following a meeting with the riders, the stewards called off the remainder of the card due to safety concerns. The track, turned muddy by morning rains, appeared to be getting deeper with each race as the running times became painfully slow.

State-bred maidens opened the card with six furlongs in 1:16.80. By the third race nonwinners-of-two claiming fillies covered a mile in a pedestrian 1:46.80 as the seven-horse field was spread out over 39 lengths.

* Kota Sensation collapsed following the fourth race, dumping rider Jose Figueroa. After several minutes the horse recovered and was able to walk back to the barn under his own power.

* Racing shifts to a Thursday-through-Sunday format beginning June 14, which will continue through the remainder of the meet.

* The Budweiser Starter Marathon Series continues Friday night with the 1 1/8-mile leg offered as the eighth and final race on the card. The race was originally scheduled for last Sunday.

- Bill Hodtwalker

Prairie Meadows

ALTOONA, Iowa - An across-the-board purse increase takes effect Friday at Prairie Meadows. Purses on claiming races will increase $700, maiden special weight purses will increase $1,000, and allowance races will be up $1,500. By contract, purses are set at nearly $180,000 per day during the 53-day Thoroughbred meeting. More than halfway through the meet the purse account is underpaid by about $250,000, which is the reason for the purse increases.

Also effective Friday, the bonuses paid to Iowa-bred runners have been decreased. The move was necessary because an increasing number of Iowa-breds have been competitive against open company this year, which has depleted the Breeders' Fund.

- Dave Basler

Thistledown

NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Thistledown and the other tracks owned by Magna Enterprises could receive a big shot in the arm if legislation in California that would increase the number of simulcasts allowed per day is passed. It will be introduced in early July.

If passed, the bill would allow California's racetracks to take up to 50 simulcasts a day, rather than the current 23. That means the Magna-owned Santa Anita Park could take more races from Thistledown. When Thistledown's races have been simulcast to California in the past, handle has increased substantially.

- Chuck Scaravilli

G. Rollie White Downs

A benefit for Jack Weaver, a longtime owner and breeder who underwent a heart transplant in May, will be held at the now-defunct G. Rollie White Downs in Brady, Texas, on June 23. The fund-raiser will include team roping events, an auction, and a barbecue and dance.

Weaver, who had the transplant May 8 in San Antonio, hails from a racing family. His six sisters are all owners and breeders, and his brother-in-law, Dennis Ory, is a former jockey who rode in the Northeast and who now trains in Texas and Louisiana.

* The Texas Horsemen's Partnership has launched a new Web site that allows its members to access their horsemen's bookkeeper accounts at all Texas tracks using a password. At the new site, horsemen can instruct THP staff to transfer funds from one account to another. The address is www.texashorsemen.com.

* The THP also announced that the winners of the three Claiming Crown Preview races last Saturday at Lone Star Park - Stormscope, Nina K, and Riverdancing - are expected to advance to the Claiming Crown finale at Canterbury Park on Aug. 4. The THP donated $2,000 to the owners of each winner to help with transportation costs to Minnesota. The THP will hold a horsemen's appreciation dinner at Lone Star on Tuesday.

- Mary Rampellini