Updated on 09/15/2011 12:32PM

DRF's around the ovals


Collins starts wedding celebration early

LINCOLN, Neb. - Dennis Collins, the leading rider at the Lincoln State Fair, will be celebrating last weekend for years to come.

Collins's two brothers were in town from New Jersey for the jockey's marriage to Becca Jorgensen, held Monday afternoon in the West Garden area of the State Fair Grounds. Saturday, the Collins brothers got to see Dennis post a five-bagger. He followed the feat with a four-bagger on Sunday.

Collins scored in the odd-number races on Saturday's card, with Bet Brick ($15.20) in the first; Hopewell Hall ($3.80) in the third; Lost Shamrock ($6.60) in the fifth; O'Mike's Gotcha ($4) in the seventh; and Braces Loded ($3.60) in the ninth.

He came back Sunday to score with Topper Stopper ($4) in the second; Kerosene Cat ($8.40) in the fifth; Ottis P Coaltrain ($11.40) in the $13,200 State Fair Futurity; and Mr Dunno ($8.80) in the ninth.

In winning nine of the 18 races offered Saturday and Sunday, Collins stormed to a 46-34 lead over Jerry Carkeek in the rider standings with two weeks remaining in the meet.

Following Sunday's card, Collins and several friends, including fellow riders Carkeek and Jerry Jewell, enjoyed a limousine tour of Lincoln leading up to the ceremonies on Monday.

* State Fair Park will offer the Jockeys Across America/Don MacBeth Day festivities on Saturday. On Sunday, the Nebraska Breeders' Championship Day will be presented, with five stakes races and four starter allowances for state-breds.

- Bill Hodtwalker

Evangeline Downs

LAFAYETTE, La. ? It was not as easy as his two previous victories, but Hail to Bag kept his perfect record intact Tuesday night at Evangeline Downs with a neck victory in the D. S. "Shine" Young Futurity.

Rapide, who finished five lengths behind the Doris Hebert-trained Hail to Bag in their qualifying trial two weeks ago, finished second again and was getting to the winner in the final strides. Abagfullofit, coupled with Hail to Bag and one of five horses Hebert sent out in Tuesday's race, finished another 1 3/4 lengths back in third.

Ridden by Steve Bourque, Hail to Bag ($2.40) covered the five furlongs in 59 seconds over a wet-fast track. The winner's share of $50,000 more than tripled the bankroll of Hail to Bag, owned by Hebert and Brittlyn Stable, to $72,000.

Ontrack attendance for the special pre-holiday program was 4,328. Total handle on the 12 races was $1,585,440.

- Jeff Taylor

Great Lakes Downs

MUSKEGON, MICH ? I Match Too risks her perfect record at the Great Lakes Downs meet when she faces six 3-year-old Michigan-bred fillies in Friday's $50,000 Ann Arbor Stakes. The one-mile Ann Arbor is race seven on the eight-race card, with first post time set for 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

I Match Too was winless last year, but came around for trainer Ronnie Allen over the winter, winning a maiden race at Tampa Bay Downs. She opened the meet here with an allowance win before rallying for victories in the Regret and Plymouth stakes. Regular rider Terry Houghton will break I Match Too from post 5.

La Vie Hawk, though still a maiden, was second to I Match Too in the Plymouth. La Vie Hawk is trained by Bob Miller and was bred by the Millers at their Del-Rob farm near Clarkston, Mich. Tommy Molina will ride La Vie Hawk from post 2.

Completing the field, from the inside, are Little Match Girl, Paul Melancon; Parisall, Felipe Santos; Let's Improvise, Louis Stokes; Empress Livia, Luis Martinez, Jr.; and Match Me Now, Mary Doser.

- C. A. Shoemaker

Louisiana Downs

BOSSIER CITY, La. ? Kirk LeBlanc, second in the rider standings at Louisiana Downs last season, has jumped out to an early lead through the first weekend of this year's meet. LeBlanc booted home five winners on Saturday and Sunday to take a two-win lead over David Guillory.

Defending champion Anthony Lovato, along with six-time champ and all-time leading rider Ronald Ardoin, has elected to remain at Lone Star through the conclusion of that meeting on July 15, so LeBlanc is taking advantage of the situation.

A couple of newcomers are riding here this year. David Nuesch, who heated up during the final month of the Oaklawn Park meeting, carried that momentum over to a successful stint at Lone Star and will be riding regularly for three-time defending training champion Cole Norman.

Another new face is Otto Thorwarth. Thorwarth, who makes his home in Hot Springs, Ark., has usually summered in the upper Midwest, but this year, elected to ride a little closer to home.

"Otto and his wife, Brandy, had a baby during the latter part of March," said Thorwarth's agent, Charlotte Miles, last week. "Riding here allows him to be relatively close to home, and with the addition of slot machines here in the near future, we just thought this is the place to be."

- Jeff Taylor

Penn National

Fittingly, on a program billed as Horsemen's Celebration Night, locally based trainers captured all five stakes last Saturday at Penn National.

It was the first time the Grantville, Pa., track had offered as many as five stakes on the same card. Purses for the stakes, which included four races restricted to Pennsylvania-breds, totaled $120,000.

Trainer John Zimmerman saddled three winners, including two ridden by Clinton Potts.

Potts was aboard Malvern Rose ($3.60), a 4-year-old filly making her first start since last September, when she wired the field in the $25,000, six-furlong Missy Good Stakes. She is now 8 for 11 lifetime.

Zimmerman and Potts scored again with 3-year-old filly Summer Shenanigans ($3.20), who dominated eight rivals in the $20,000 Alison McClay Memorial Handicap. She ran six furlongs in 1:10.92 to win her second consecutive stakes.

Zimmerman completed his triple when Luis Munar rode Tonto Gusto ($4.40) to a 5 1/4-length victory in the $25,000 Ligature Stakes. Timed in 1:09.27 for six furlongs, the 6-year-old Tonto Gusto has now won four straight races.

Todd Beattie saddled the first- and second-place finishers in the $25,000 Send More Money Stakes. Beau's Surprise ($2.80), ridden by Rodrigo Madrigal Jr., romped by 10 3/4 lengths over stablemate Panther Pond in the 1 1/16-mile race to record his third consecutive stakes victory. A 3-year-old colt, Beau's Surprise is now 6 for 7 lifetime.

In the only real surprise on the stakes portion of the program, 3-year-old filly One Lucky One ($37.20), trained by Clifford Riggs, tried two turns for only the second time in her career and drew off to win the $25,000 Credenza Stakes by 6 3/4 lengths. One Lucky One came into the race 1 for 9 lifetime, with her only win coming 10 months ago in a maiden sprint race at Philadelphia Park.

- Joe DeVivo