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DRF's around the ovals
Inside speed bias returns at Louisiana
Years ago, Louisiana Downs was known as being very kind to inside speed. In recent seasons, however, that bias has diminished to the point of track position rarely affecting the outcome of a race.
All that changed Labor Day, when the old bias returned with a vengeance. Winner after winner came from along the rail, and the first eight winners made the lead soon after the start. Most drew off down the stretch after being used early, which seemed implausible.
Who better to exploit the bias than the two crafty veteran riders Kirk LeBlanc and Ronald Ardoin? LeBlanc padded his big lead in the standings with a four-bagger, taking full advantage of the three times he rode horses who broke from the rail. Ardoin, the all-time leading rider here with over 2,800 victories, won two on the afternoon.
In the fourth race, the King, as Ardoin is commonly called, won on the 9-2 Matter of Course from post 6, the only winner to come from outside post 3 all afternoon.
In the featured Prelude Stakes, Ardoin took the lead and hugged the rail on 9-1 longshot Rare Cure, who held off Quadrophonic Sound, with LeBlanc up.
- Jeff Taylor
SHAKOPEE, Minn. - There was a storybook ending to the meet when Canterbury Park Hall of Famer Dean Kutz rode Binalegend to a half-length victory in Monday's $40,000 Minneapolis Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
Binalegend ($4.40) and the 44-year old Kutz edged Be My Friend in 1:42.25. Binalegend is trained by Carl Nafzger, who also is a member of Canterbury's Hall of Fame.
Binalegend was Kutz's second winner since he began his comeback from throat cancer surgery Aug. 8 at Ellis Park.
Canterbury's 61-day meet concluded with an unexpected gain of 3 percent in average ontrack attendance, to 4,010. This despite more racing days. Average ontrack handle, $260,946, nearly matched that of 2000. Total wagering at the meet, including betting on Canterbury's simulcast signal, totaled $29,022,584, which translated to an increase of more than 12 percent in average daily handle.
Doug Oliver snared the trainers' title for the third straight meeting, with 24 winners. Derek Bell won the jockeys' title for the second straight year, with 65 winning mounts.
Shot of Gold was named horse of the meet, best older male, and top sprinter for his three wins in allowance company this meet. Owned by Tom and Karen Metzen and John and Kathy Voss, Shot of Gold was also named the 2000 National Claiming Horse of the Year by the National HBPA. Shot of Gold, a 5-year-old son of Jolie's Halo, will return to Minnesota next year to stand at stud.
- David M. Miller
Apprentice jockey Carlos Castro is still learning English. Meanwhile, he's allowing his riding to do all his talking.
Castro, 19, moved ahead of the injured Travis Dunkelberger last week as Charles Town's leading rider at the summer meet. Castro rode his first winner in his native Puerto Rico last January and has 37 winners in 256 mounts since coming to West Virginia.
"From what I can gather, he probably knows about 5 percent of the English language," said Dave Wilson, Castro's agent. "The good thing is Carlos doesn't seem to need a lot of instructions. He rides a good race."
To help smooth the transition, Gus Gustines, a jockey valet at the track, often serves as Castro's interpreter in the paddock.
"I can talk to the trainer beforehand and relay the instructions to Gus," Wilson said.
* Betsy Berns, who has written fan guides to the National Football League and NASCAR auto racing, will be at Charles Town on Sunday to sign copies of her latest book, "An Introduction to the Thrill of Thoroughbred Racing," published by Daily Racing Form.
* Past Tence ($7), part of a two-horse entry for trainer James Casey, romped to an 11-length victory over a sloppy track in last weekend's $25,000 Bob Leavitt Memorial Stakes for 3-year-old West Virginia-breds. It was Past Tence's first win in seven starts since taking a maiden race in the mud on March 22.
- Joe DeVivo
COLUMBUS, Neb. - The small size of the jockey colony was evident Monday afternoon when only nine riders were in the room for the nine-race card. Six horses scratched for lack of a rider.
Leading rider Jerry Carkeek won four races on both Saturday evening and Monday afternoon. He owns a 42-25 advantage over Armando Martinez in the standings. Also on Monday, newcomer Alex Granda had three wins and Dennis Baxter two. Carkeek, Granda, and Baxter accounted for all the races Monday.
Dan Coughlin had four wins over the weekend. He trails Marv Johnson in the trainers' standings, 12-9, with two weekends remaining in the meet. Johnson has shipped a large part of his stable to Hoosier Park, which opens Friday.
Coughlin collected two of his wins Monday when Xylocoe captured the 1 3/8-mile Coors Starter Series finale in the seventh race. He then saddled Mr Zooha to victory in the Labor Day Handicap in the following race.
- Bill Hodtwalker
Tic N Tin was a surprise entrant in Monday's Labor Day Sprint, coming off a nose defeat in the $100,000 Arlington Sprint to Breeders' Cup hopeful Bet on Sunshine.
According to trainer Ron Brandenburg, "he needed a blowout anyway so we thought this would serve the purpose." The "blowout" turned turned into a track-record performance under leading rider Vincente Flores. His time of 51.40 eclipsed the 23-year-old standard of 51.60 for 4 1/2 furlongs. Tic N Tin, who is stabled locally, usually races in Chicago but is perfect in three starts here. He returned $2.80.
Trainer Ralph Martinez and owner Louis O'Brien have enjoyed a sensational year. Martinez, who trains privately for O'Brien, leads Brandenburg 99 to 49 in the standings after 278 starters, good for a 36 win percentage. Martinez also is 12th nationally with 111 wins overall. Martinez, 23, took over training duties for the O'Brien stable from his father, Raul, last year. O'Brien ranks third nationally in wins.
- Rod Peck
Great Lakes Downs
MUSKEGON, Mich. - The track record for seven furlongs of 1:26.42 fell three times over the holiday weekend, as a new series of four seven-furlong $25,000 stakes races were run.
Last year's top 3-year-old filly at this meet, Flyinghannah, won the Great Lakes Handicap on Saturday in a track-record 1:25.72.
The ink was barely dry on Flyinghannah's record when Above the Wind won the Beau Genius Handicap in 1:25.67. Secret Romeo lived up to his star billing in the Wink Novotny Memorial for 3-year-olds, winning despite trouble in 1:24.77.
- C.A. Shoemaker