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DRF's around the ovals (6/22)
12-year-old comes out of retirement to win
COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - In the 1990's, Tumbleweed was the star of owner Louis O'Brien and trainer Raul Martinez's stable at Fairmount Park, winning 22 of 102 starts while earning more than $192,000. But early last year, when Raul's son, Ralph, took over the stable, Tumbleweed had begun to slow down and the decision was made to pension him.
After Tumbleweed won for a bottom-level claiming tag of $3,000 on Feb. 29, 2000, he was put out to pasture to lead a life of leisure at age 11.
But Tumbleweed had other ideas, and he let his handlers know.
"He always seemed bored on the farm, so this spring I brought him to the track thinking he would make a good lead pony," Ralph Martinez said.
But Tumbleweed didn't take to that, either. "Every time I took him out on the track he would get antsy, wanting to chase after horses who were working, so I just decided, if you're going to be that way about it, I'll just put you back in training."
Tumbleweed had always excelled at a route of ground, so Martinez had no qualms about entering him at a mile for his comeback race last Saturday night. The public had faith in the 12-year-old Tumbleweed too, making him the 2-1 favorite over seven rivals in the $3,000 claiming race.
Tumbleweed raced in seventh position early, launched a six-wide move on the far turn and then came charging down the stretch under Nelson Medina, Tumbleweed's partner on many occasions during his glory years, to score a one-length win.
Martinez has no set plans for the rest of Tumbleweed's career, and will take a wait-and-see approach. "I think from now on we'll just let him tell us what to do," Martinez added with a chuckle.
* Three jockeys familiar to local racing fans returned to Fairmount this week. J.D. Hundley lives in Ocala, Fla., but each summer comes north to ride here and is always popular with horsemen. Keenan Steward spent the winter riding in Jamaica but last week decided to come back to Fairmount for the remainder of the summer. Danny Campbell, originally from Marion, Ill., was seriously injured last fall at Sam Houston and is here working his way back into the action.
- Rod Peck
Trainer Mike Murray won the first race of the Canterbury Park meeting and then put together an impressive string of wins during the weeks that followed, winning with four of his first five starters. Two of those wins came from Deher's Turn, a strapping gelding who won his maiden race by daylight and returned to win an allowance contest in similar fashion.
After purchasing the colt at the Ocala Breeders' Sale mixed sale in January, Murray was delighted to learn that he had secured a half-brother to the eventual Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner, Point Given. Murray campaigns Deher's Turn in the name of his Warrendale Farms, a name he borrowed from the Warrendale saloon he once operated in Detroit. Deher's Turn's win streak was snapped after a tough trip from the 12 post in last Saturday's Brooks Fields Handicap, but his trainer's enthusiasm for his $7,500 purchase remains undiminished.
* After five weeks of racing, jockey Tho Nguyen leads the standings in a competitive group of riders, having won 13 races through Sunday.
Nguyen overcame a scary incident last Saturday aboard Patricia's Whirl in the third race, when he was pitched hard to the track when his mount fell just past the wire. Nguyen honored his remaining riding engagements despite the rough fall and won the sixth race with Picnic Spread.
Last Sunday, Nguyen captured the first two races of the card to take a narrow lead in the standings over Derek Bell. Jockey Joanne Black, a newcomer who most recently rode at Turf Paradise, has made a distinct impression, winning 11 races to rank third in the standings. Seth Martinez rounds out the top four with 10 wins.
- David M. Miller
Great Lakes Downs
MUSKEGON, Mich. - History repeated itself at Great Lakes Downs last weekend.
Jockey Terry Houghton won last Friday's Spartan Handicap aboard Secret Romeo and last Saturday's Plymouth Stakes with I Match Too.
Just three weeks earlier, Houghton rode Secret Romeo to victory in the Lansing Stakes and I Match Too to win the Regret Stakes. Through June 15, Houghton ranked 15th in the nation with 121 wins, with more than half of his victories coming at this meet.
* Paul Ryneveld, assistant general manager here since last year, has left Great Lakes Downs to be the director of racing operations at Sunland Park Casino and Race Track in New Mexico. No replacement has been named.
* In addition to racehorses, race cars and their drivers will be on the program on Sunday, July 1. Drivers will be signing autographs from 4-6 p.m., with horse racing getting under way at 5:30 p.m.
- C.A. Shoemaker
LINCOLN, Neb. - Dennis Collins rattled off five consecutive victories to close out Sunday's nine-race card at the Lincoln State Fair. After starting the day by finishing fourth, fourth, third, and second, Collins began a memorable string of wins.
He guided Ormonte's Lady to a 5 3/4-length win in the fifth for a $17.20 mutuel. The following race he was aboard Trumpty Dumpty to score by a length in track-record time of 2:17.80 for the 1 3/8-mile leg of the Budweiser Marathon Starter Series.
Then Collins was aboard when Steel Happy collected his third straight win of the meet in the seventh and Clamato Rose scored at $7 against male rivals in the eighth.
Collins closed out the card on Threshold Gate, opening up more than five lengths heading up the backstretch of the mile and 70-yard finale, then was all-out to hold off Holly's Rex and win by a nose.
* Jerry Carkeek, who had three-baggers on both Friday and Saturday evenings, leads Collins by a 30-27 margin after the fifth week of racing.
Herb Riecken saddled three winners and now trails Gene DeRoin, 8-7, in the trainer standings.
* Seville's Ace equaled the 4 1/2-furlong meet-best mark of 51.20 seconds last Saturday. Sweet Fantastic also sped a meet-best mile of 1:36.80 on Saturday night in the Matchmaker Handicap.
- Bill Hodtwalker
ALTOONA, Iowa - Prairie Meadows will hold its third annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA handicapping contest this Saturday, with the top four finishers earning an expense-paid trip to Las Vegas to participate in the $200,000 national championship next January.
The contest will consist of mythical $2 win and place wagers on each of the nine live races at Prairie Meadows, as well as six other races from other preselected tracks.
The entry fee for the contest is $50. Cash prizes will be awarded in addition to the trips to the national finals, with the winner taking home 25 percent of the entry fees. The second- through 10th-place finishers will also receive cash prizes.
* Trainer Ray Stifano continues to be red hot. He saddled four winners from just five starters on Tuesday afternoon's card. Stifano has moved into fourth position in the trainer standings after being out of the top 10 as recently as two weeks ago. Mike Allen rode all four winners for Stifano.
- Dave Basler
NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Trainer Rodrigo Madrigal Sr. was perfect Monday at Thistledown when he saddled four horses, all of whom won.
Madrigal's streak started in the fifth race with Beau Beau Genius. In the sixth Madrigal won with Duke's Lite and he then closed out the day with back-to-back wins in the last two races with Lil Joes Luckycent and Mike Regs Winner.
Veteran jockey Luis A. Gonzalez rode the first three winners and Scott Saito the fourth.
Madrigal moved into third place in the trainer standings and is now four winners behind Gary Lee Johnson and one behind Andy Konkoly.
He has started 29 horses at the meet and has a 11-4-4 record. Madrigal has raced at Thistledown since the mid-1960's when he came here from Mexico as a rider. In 1979 he took out his training license and his first winner, Reggie's Winner, came for owner Frank Regalbuto, a part owner of both Lil Joes Luckycent and Mike Regs Winner.
Gonzalez's hat-trick catapulted him to the lead in the jockey race and he now has a two-winner edge, 28-26, over Mike Rowland, who won the opening race on the card for his 3,500th career victory.
- Chuck Scaravilli