Updated on 09/15/2011 12:40PM

DRF's around the ovals


Gather ye claimers, while it pays

Canterbury Park announced Friday that a record 90 horses were pre-entered for the six-race Claiming Crown series on Aug. 4. The Claiming Crown, which will offer purses of $550,000 and be simulcast nationally, will feature runners from nearly every racing jurisdiction in North America.

In conjunction with the event, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association will be hosting a seminar for prospective owners with a special emphasis on the claiming game. The seminar will address the rules of racing as they apply to claiming stock, establishing an account with the horsemen's bookkeeper, licensing, and physical inspection of a prospect before claiming. The seminar will be held Claiming Crown morning from 8:30 until noon.

* Jockey Luis Quinonez, a five-time winner of the Canterbury Park riding title, has decided to remain in Shakopee for the rest of the meet rather than ride at Prairie Meadows, which is now conducting its mixed meet. Quinonez was named on only three mounts on the Friday overnight but should make his presence felt in the weeks ahead.

- David M. Miller

Charles Town

Wayne Bailey doesn't run many horses at Charles Town. But when he does, watch out.

Bailey's horses won three of the four $40,000 stakes on last Sunday's special Owners' Day program. For the season, Bailey now has sent out 12 winners from only 18 starters at the West Virginia oval. Elsewhere, he's 4 for 35.

"These are the days you dream of," said Bailey, who has been a trainer for 27 years and primarily races in Maryland. "But we did come in with three loaded guns."

Bailey won the seven-furlong Lady Di Stakes with 6-5 favorite Vanna Go, the 4 1/2-furlong Kelly Kip Stakes with 10-year-old Wise Dusty, and the 1 1/8-mile Jefferson County Stakes with Monk's Falcon.

Bailey stole the spotlight from jockey Travis Dunkelberger, who guided Wild Fashion to a front-running victory in the 4 1/2-furlong Flags Up Stakes.

Dunkelberger returned from a one-week vacation and solidified his position as the nation's leading jockey in total wins. Dunkelberger rode 15 winners at Charles Town last week and added four victories at Delaware Park. His biggest win of the week was aboard Amourette in the $150,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial Breeders' Cup at Delaware.

- Joe DeVivo

Colonial Downs

Mario Pino owns a sizable lead in the jockey standings after winning three more races on Tuesday. Pino, who has 37 wins at the meet after Tuesday's card, has a 14-win lead over Ramon Dominguez, who is also riding regularly at Delaware Park, in second. Dominguez is the second leading jockey in the country in wins this year behind Travis Dunkelberger.

Pino has won at a strong 35 percent clip during the first three weeks of the Colonial meet, which is scheduled to close Aug. 7.

Apprentice Alex Estrada, 26, is also enjoying a successful meet, with seven wins, including five during a five-day span. Each of Estrada's winners have produced double-digit payoffs, ranging from $40.80 to $14.40.

* A pair of $40,000 stakes for fillies and mares on the grass highlight the racing card this weekend. Saturday, Kim goes in defense of her title in the 1 1/16-mile Brookmeade Stakes. Sunday's Somethingroyal Stakes at six furlongs features Elfin Glen, a winner of $348,213.

Colonial Downs will host a free handicapping seminar Saturday at 12:15 p.m.

- Karen M. Johnson


Twelve-year-old Mr. Springfield on Friday night won his fourth straight race and his sixth from eight starts on the year for trainer Ted McDaniel and owners Smith and Myrna Calhoun. Mr. Springfield, who in his younger days was among the top sprinters on the grounds, got his first win of the season in March against bottom-level $3,000 claimers but has steadily worked his way up to the $6,250 level.

Leading rider Tommy Pompell recently moved his tack to Ellis Park, leaving a scramble for his mounts and a wide-open jockey race. Pompell left with 92 wins; Mike James is in second with 76.

- Rod Peck

Great Lakes Downs

MUSKEGON, Mich. - Island N Abreeze should be favored in Friday's $20,000-estimated MTOBA Stallion Service Auction Stakes at Great Lakes Downs. The seven-furlong race, for progeny produced by stallion shares sold at the Michigan auction, drew a field of seven 3-year-old runners, including three fillies.

The homebred Island N Abreeze, by Sefapiano, has earned $111,117 in his career and is looking for his first victory of the season. He won last year's Graduate Stakes here but has had to face Secret Romeo, the hottest Michigan-bred runner around, in seven of his starts. Island N Abreeze's regular rider, Freddie Mata, is still out after having broken some of his toes, so leading rider Terry Houghton gets the call from trainer Brenda Hill.

* Jockey Janell Gruss won three races Sunday night when she swept the pick three, winning the second, third, and fourth races. Bobbie's Booked ($25.60) started the string when Gruss brought the Tom Lehman-trained longshot four wide to win by three-quarters of a length. Gruss then easily won aboard Non Descript ($8.80), who is trained by Karl Waters. Gruss completed 6-2-8 pick three, which paid $132.80 for anyone picking two winners, on another Lehman longshot, First Class Lady ($21.20).

* Cameraman Bob Palen, who was the first non-administrative employee hired by Great Lakes Downs in 1998, is in intensive care at a local hospital after suffering a stroke in a camera tower Saturday evening. Palen, 48, was in the head-on stretch tower when Sportview boss Matt Painter lost radio contact with him. It was nearly an hour before Fruitport Township rescue personnel could gain access to the tower with aerial equipment and evacuate Palen. He then underwent brain surgery.

- C.A. Shoemaker

Hipodromo de las Americas

Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico City will introduce a jockey competition on Saturday patterned after the National Thoroughbred Racing Association All-Star Jockey Championship, an annual competition held at Lone Star Park near Dallas, the track that serves as chief racing advisor to the Hipodromo.

Hipodromo's Jockeys Day is to be held on an annual basis, and funds raised during the event, which includes a memorabilia sale, will go toward creating a retirement account for riders.

The championship will feature the track's top nine Thoroughbred riders in a three-race competition, and its top eight Quarter Horse riders in a two-race competition. Each of the races Saturday have been named for a famous Mexican rider, including Silvio Quintero, the only rider in history to win the Mexican Triple Crown.

* Ruben Saldivar Gonzalez was named general manager of Hipodromo earlier this meet. An engineer graduate of Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, he is the former general manager of the Coca Cola Auditorium in Monterrey for CIE, the company that operates Hipodromo.

- Mary Rampellini

Lone Star Park

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The jockey colony at Lone Star Park helped raise $23,200 for charity during the track's recent Thoroughbred meet, which closed July 15.

Mike Modano of the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars was at the track closing day to receive a check for half of the funds raised, $11,600, for his Mike Modano Foundation for abused children. The remaining funds were donated to the Jockeys' Guild Disabled Riders Fund.

Lone Star jockeys earned money for the charities by winning multiple races on a program, from $100 for each riding double they scored up to $10,000 for six wins on a program, which was achieved by Anthony Lovato on July 3. Bob Sambol, owner of Bob's Steak and Chop House in Dallas, donated the money earned by the riders to both charities.

- Mary Rampellini

Louisiana Downs

BOSSIER CITY, La. - Louisiana-bred Quarter Horses take center stage here this week as close to 70 2-year-olds attempt to qualify for the rich Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders' Association Sales Futurity. A total of eight trials, four each on Thursday and Friday, will be run with the first trial set to get under way at 1:45 p.m. local time. A full Thoroughbred card will follow each day. The final for the LQBA Futurity will be held Aug. 11.

Topping the list of potential qualifiers is Kerrys Lil Jess. She will attempt to complete a rare hat trick; she has already won the Mardi Grass Futurity at Fair Grounds in March and the Louisiana Breeders' Futurity at Delta Downs on June 10.

* It did not take three-time defending training champ Cole Norman long to get back to the top of the trainer standings. Norman had limited starters here the first couple of weeks of this year's season, choosing to keep the bulk of his stable at Lone Star. When that meeting concluded on July 15, Norman shifted his operation and promptly won four races last Thursday. He has saddled seven winners and leads Shane Wilson and Andy Ney by one win through last Sunday's action.

- Jeff Taylor

River Downs

Jockeys Beth Butler and Eddie Zuniga, both ranked in the top 15 in the River Downs standings, suffered injuries in a two-horse spill last week. Butler broke her collar bone and a rib, but is recovering well enough to possibly resume riding in two or three weeks. Zuniga, whose hip injury required an extensive hospital stay, faces rehabilitation, though the injury is not considered career ending. Also on the sidelines is Jodie Fortner, who aggravated an old injury during a morning workout mishap. She is expected to be back in the saddle toward the end of the meet.

* River Downs and the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association have teamed together for "Women in Racing," part of the Queen City Oaks program this Saturday. One of the highlights of the day's festivities is a Matchmaker Series of four races for fillies and mares in which the top three finishers in each race will have their choice of a free stallion season donated by an Ohio breeding farm.

- Vance Hanson

Sam Houston

Champion Kona Gold wasn't the only sprinter to win his seventh consecutive race last Sunday. Bugs by Yawl, a Quarter Horse based at Sam Houston Race Park, notched his seventh straight victory when he won the $26,280 Professional's Choice Texas Challenge. With the win, Bugs by Yawl earned a berth into the Professional's Choice Claiming Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos on Oct. 20.

Bugs by Yawl is owned by B and B Joint Ventures and is trained by Beverly McNeely, who is tied atop the trainer standings at Sam Houston with Janet VanBebber.

- Mary Rampellini


Thistledown's director of racing and racing secretary Bill Couch has added three overnight handicaps and a stakes to the racing schedule - the $25,000 Sadies Dream on July 30, the $20,000 Royal Harmony on Aug. 5, and the $20,000 Jug O'Gin on Sept. 15. In addition, Frank Stronach, whose Magna entertainment owns this track, will sponsor the $35,000 Adena Springs Matchmaker Sprint for fillies and mares on Ohio Derby Day, Sept. 29. The top three finishers in the race will be awarded stallion seasons to Golden Missile (winner), Wild Rush (runner-up), and Running Stag (third-place).

Couch has begun touring the country recruiting horses for the Grade 2 $300,000, nine-furlong Ohio Derby. Traditionally, the Ohio Derby has been held in late July and Couch hopes this year's Sept. 29 date will attract a quality field.

- Chuck Scaravilli

Yavapai Downs

Last weekend three trials were held for the American Airlines MBNA Challenge West/Southwest Juvenile, which will hold its final on Aug. 4. Royal Beduino Man romped in the first division with Floyd Campbell in the saddle, stopping the timer in 17.61 seconds for the 350 yards. Longshot Rocket Effort, with Scott Stevens in the saddle, took the second division for trainer Raul Hernandez, who is enjoying a strong meet. The final trial was won by Chicks Blue Dash, who nailed the favorite, Cartel Charley, in the final stride.

* On Sunday, Yavapai Downs is hosting a Daily Racing Form handicapping seminar, beginning at 11 a.m. Those attending the seminar will receive free admission to the track on Sunday and Monday.

- Karen M. Johnson