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DRF's Around the Ovals (6/29)
Don't Countess Out best of promising cast
ALTOONA, Iowa - A trio of impressive debut maiden winners return in search of their initial stakes scores in Friday night's Prairie Gold Lassie Stakes at Prairie Meadows. The $50,000 stakes is for 2-year-old fillies at five furlongs.
Brothers Greg and Ray Tracy will saddle two of the three returning winners. Greg sends out Fancy Prancer, who ships in from Canterbury after leading throughout to score by 10 1/2 lengths June 15.
Devil's Rush returns a week after her 9 1/2-length ridden out victory over males for Ray Tracy.
As impressive as both Fancy Prancer and Devil's Rush were in their debuts, the pick here is Don't Countess Out, who was never asked for speed at any point in her debut while cruising to a 3 1/4-length victory here June 5. Leading rider Terry Thompson wrapped up on Don't Countess Out through the final furlong of the five-furlong race when it was clear that the race was won. She will add Lasix for trainer Larry Jones on Friday. Southern Pride Stable LLC owns the daughter of Take Me Out.
Last weekend's stakes at Prairie Meadows were captured by a full brother and sister. Two-time defending Iowa-bred horse of the year Sure Shot Biscuit, a 5-year-old gelding, won Saturday's John Wayne Stakes for trainer Kelly Von Hemel, while his younger sister, 4-year-old-filly Nut N Better, took Sunday's Mamie Eisenhower for trainer Fred Falldorf.
Both horses are by Miracle Heights out of Native Secretary and both were bred by Shady Bend Thoroughbreds, who still owns Nut N Better. Sure Shot Biscuit is owned by Okoboji Racing Stables.
Sure Shot Biscuit is the richest Iowa-bred ever with earnings of more than $750,000. Nut N Better is third on the earnings list after going over the $450,000 mark Sunday.
- Dave Basler
Jockey Chuck Costanzo won with both of his mounts Sunday. In the fifth race, Costanzo's mount, Sittin on the Pine, repelled several challenges and prevailed as the even-money favorite in a route for $3,500 claimers. The rider came right back in the eighth race to partner 13-1 shot Exotic Exotic to a narrow win in a 1 1/16-mile turf race. Costanzo pulled off a similar upset aboard Sue's Adam Bomb last week.
Owner-trainer Gary Carter is considering the Iowa Derby as the next start for Admonition, who won last Saturday's $35,000 St. Paul Stakes by three-quarters of a length.
Despite being bumped by an entrymate and breaking last in the St. Paul, Admonition rallied around the field under rider Tho Nguyen to best Corporate Shuffle while covering the six furlongs in 1:11.06.
Earlier this meet, Admonition finished fourth on turf in the Canterbury Derby for Carter and co-owner Richard Carney.
- David M. Miller
COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - Jockey John Woodley, who topped the standings here twice in the 1990's, is back riding after missing the last year because of a training-hours mishap in which he suffered multiple disc injuries to his back and neck. Woodley won with his second mount back in Monday's seventh race, scoring aboard Genteel Lady for owner Dana Waier and trainer Leroy Hellman.
Michael James catapulted his way from fourth to second in the rider standings with an outstanding week. James won three races Friday, two Saturday and five races on Monday. James, with 59 wins, now trails only Tommy Pompell, who has 84.
Two trainers had hot streaks this week as well. Ron Brandenburg saddled back-to-back winners Friday night, then was at Arlington Park on Saturday to send out Tic N Tin, whom he co-owns with Bob Austin, to win the $75,000 White Oak Handicap. Later that evening Brandenburg was in the winner's circle again, this time with Pats Dancing Girl after the third at Fairmount. Brandenburg is second in the standings with 36 wins, trailing Ralph Martinez, who has 60.
Jerry Hammond was also on a roll, saddling two winners Monday and three Tuesday.
- Rod Peck
Great Lakes Downs
MUSKEGON, Mich. - An ugly four-horse spill took place here in Saturday's third race when I Are S clipped heels and fell. Luis Martinez, aboard I Are S, hit the ground hard and was was taken to the hospital with bruised ribs. Martinez returned to action Tuesday night, won the first race aboard Blackstone Dreamer, but complained of discomfort and didn't ride the rest of the evening. He is expected to be back on Friday.
Prospectors Gem was leading the second flight and tripped over I Are S, throwing rider Louis Stokes, who was treated for a cut on his head but returned to ride the next day. Scott Sowle was unhurt when Lil J. C. fell, and Mary Doser was unseated, but also unhurt, when Prospectors Brew jumped over the downed horses. All of the horses walked away, but Prospectors Brew got the worst of the accident when he continued around the track, then shied from outrider Ronnie Houghton and tried to jump over the rail into the infield but wound up straddling it. Trainer Richard Rettele said Prospectors Brew received stitches and was sent to Rettele's farm to recover.
Freddie Mata will be out several weeks after breaking some of his toes in the paddock while the field for the fifth race was being saddled. Mata is currently second in the jockey standings.
- C.A. Shoemaker
LINCOLN, Neb. - Exceptional performances and oddities were the rule here last week.
Ain't She Sweet avoided traffic problems to post a 22-length victory over $10,000 maidens in Friday's fifth race. With inexperienced horses trying to bear out through the first turn of the six-furlong dash, seven of the nine starters were bothered. Under Dennis Collins, Ain't She Sweet was in front of the trouble and found herself all alone turning up the backstretch. She coasted home from there under a hand ride.
In Saturday's first race, Windy Bell ducked into the temporary railing crossing the gap and threw rider Jose Figueroa. She then ran into the inner rail and flipped over into the infield. While members of the gate crew tried to corral the riderless horse, the race continued without incident. Windy Bell continued to avoid capture for nearly 10 minutes.
High Dice capped off the weekend with a track-record peformance in the mile and 70-yard Executive Board Handicap. Trained by Herb Riecken, High Dice lowered No Brandy's mark of 1:40.60 set in 1989 by better than a second, speeding the distance in 1:39.40.
- Bill Hodtwalker
NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Last Saturday's concert featuring the Marvellettes, the Platters and the Coasters, rekindling memories of when horse racing drew large crowds regularly.
Saturday admission was $1 before 3 p.m. and $10 thereafter, and the fans made sure they got here early.
Before the first race the apron was crowded with patrons. When the races started a roar came up from the cheering fans reminiscent of the days before television monitors when everyone would run out on the apron to see and cheer for their horses.
The attendance for the day was 6,657, well above the average Saturday crowd of 4,500, and the ontrack handle was up $56,000 over that of a normal Saturday.
- Chuck Scaravilli