07/31/2001 11:00PM

DRF's around the ovals

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Win streak by ex-claimer 'Bugs' at eight

Bugs by Yawl, a Quarter Horse based at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, won his eighth consecutive race last Sunday night when he captured the $11,900 Kool Kue Baby Overnight. With his victory, the colt moved one step closer the record for consecutive wins by a Quarter Horse, which stands at 14.

Bugs by Yawl's win streak dates back to last December, when he won a starter allowance race at Lone Star Park near Dallas. He was claimed two races prior for $7,500, and has since developed into a multiple stakes winner for his new owners, Bubba Smith and Bill Fowler.

Smith said Bugs by Yawl would likely make his next start in the 330-yard division of the Hot Summer Nights Starter Series at Sam Houston on Aug. 10.

* Sam Houston drew a crowd of 7,299 for its Texas Summer Showdown last Saturday, a stakes-filled card that annually makes for one of the track's biggest nights of Quarter Horse racing.

- Mary Rampellini

Colonial Downs

Friday begins the final week of racing at Colonial Downs, which concludes its meet Tuesday.

On July 29, for the first time at the 22-day meet, the entire 10-race card was taken off the turf and run on the dirt because of rain. Up to that point, grass races accounted for 85 percent off all the races run at the meet.

* Trainer Leigh Offutt won her first race last Sunday with Humbucker in the fifth race. Offutt, 21, the leading amateur rider in the country last year, received her trainer's license in June.

* A field of 12 horses entered Saturday's $40,000 Daniel Van Clief Stakes. Among the top contenders for the 1 1/16-mile grass race are Oak Level and Please Run, second and third, respectively, in last year's Van Clief.

- Karen M. Johnson

Columbus

COLUMBUS, Neb. - Agricultural Park in Columbus opened its 25-day meeting last Friday night with a good crowd of 2,670 fans on hand despite a temperature in the high 80's. The enthusiastic crowd was an 18 percent increase over last year's opening night. Handle on the eight live races was nearly identical to the same night last year.

* Jerry Carkeek scored a four-bagger on Sunday, including the early daily double aboard Spar ($9.80) and 11-year-old Pappy's Double ($7). He picked up another win with Gleefully Proud ($6.60) in the sixth. The featured seventh race was the first leg of the Coors Starter Series at a mile and 70 yards, and Carkeek booted home We Be Spotless ($8) to score by a neck.

* Dean Hansen was selected the Godfather's Pizza trainer of the week with two wins opening weekend. Godfather's Pizza will present a large pizza to the week's winningest trainer over the course of the meeting.

- Bill Hodtwalker

Ellis Park

Wednesday's oppressive heat that sent the thermometer soaring wasn't the only thing that was up at Ellis Park. Purses have risen to all-time highs.

Paul Kuerzi, the track's vice president/general manager, announced a 5 percent purse increase across the board in all races except stakes.

Additionally, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development monies allotted to open maiden and allowance races was elevated from 50 to 60 percent of the base purse offered by the association.

The increases aren't noted in the current condition book, which runs through Aug. 15. Ellis will now offer a record of about $205,000 daily, which includes the KTDF.

Fairmount Park

Apprentice jockey Argelio "Gino" Velazquez won his first career race in last Friday's second race at Fairmount Park aboard West Lakeshore.

Velazquez, a native of Cuernavaca, Mexico, is already well known to local horsemen after working for five years as an exercise rider for trainers Eddie Essenpreis and Jimmy Zook, as well as riding county fairs. Fittingly, it was Essenpreis who gave the 25-year-old Velazquez the leg up on his first winner.

* Jerry Hammond claimed the speedy Gotabuck in March on behalf of Eddie Lacey and Benita Simmons and has found a niche for him in races ranging from two furlongs to 4 1/2 furlongs. Last Friday, the 7-year-old Gotabuck won his fourth straight under regular rider Marcial Campos, this time at a half-mile.

* Dr. Donald Griffin's homebred, State Flag, proved he is currently the top 2-year-old on the grounds Tuesday when he overcame a troubled start to win going away in allowance company under John Woodley. Trained by Jim Boehm, State Flag won his maiden last time out in allowance company.

* Players aware of how first-time Lasix can help a horse achieve his true potential got a bargain payoff in Tuesday's Missouri Brave Handicap. Sam R., who had been stakes-placed in previous years, bled last time out for trainer Bill Duncan and came roaring back for a $29.40 payoff under Gabe Retana as an obviously huge overlay.

- Rod Peck

Thistledown

The Thistledown meeting, second of the four meetings which make up the racing season at Thistledown, ended last Sunday, but calculating the pluses or minuses is not cut and dried.

This year's average attendance for 60 days was 3,771, down 3 percent from a year ago. The daily average on-track handle was down 10 percent to $197,257.

At first glance, the numbers are not too pretty until you take into consideration that the centerpiece of the Thistledown racing season, the Grade 2 $300,000 Ohio Derby, which traditionally been run during this meeting, has moved to Sept. 29 this year. So its figures are missing from the equation.

Last year, the Ohio Derby drew 13,637 fans and they bet $2,492,497. That number averages out to about $40,000 a day over the course of the meet, which would have put this year's average handle at about $237,000, or an increase from last year's $218,990.

The attendance figures would also have shown a gain.

When the Ohio Derby is run during the current Randall meeting, the Randall numbers will reflect a dramatic rise.

* Gary Lee Johnson won another training title when he saddled 3l winners from 158 starters, seven more than Andy Konkoly, who had 24 winners from just 68 starters. Johnson is having one of his best years. He has saddled 101 winners for the year, compared to 139 for all of 2000. With five months of racing remaining he should easily top that figure.

Luis Gonzalez won his first riding title when he booted home 57 winners, seven better the Mike Rowland.

- Chuck Scaravilli

Yavapai Downs

The finals of the $46,620 American Airlines West/Southwest Futurity will be held Saturday at Yavapai Downs. There are 10 finalists set to run in the 350-yard race.

The horses and their qualifying times are Rocket Effort (17.50 seconds), Justenuffheart (17.51), SLR Leavin Laughing (17.57), Royal Beduino Man (17.61), Mr. Pop Eye (17.66), Come Back Shane (17.68), Chicks Blue Dash (17.68), Cartel Charley (17.76), Caits Rocket (17.79), and Quick Tease (17.85).

* After winning three races last week, Bill Brashears was recognized as trainer of the week. The previous week, trainer Jimmy Hoobler held that honor by winning with five horses from 14 starters.

- Karen M. Johnson