08/31/2002 12:00AM

Ellis Park track report

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Trainers Henry Cochran and Hal Wiggins appear to hold the strongest hands Monday in the Tri-State Handicap, a $75,000 turf race that helps bring a close to the 41-day meet at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.

While Cochran and Wiggins both are scheduled to run two legitimate contenders in the Tri-State, the entries bring disparate styles to the race. The Cochran duo of Catchy Word and Moon Solitaire both tend to run on or near the pace, whereas the Wiggins pair of Jake the Flake and Red Mountain are come-from-behinders.

The 1 1/8-mile Tri-State shapes up as a competitive race that drew a field of 11 older horses, including the two couplings. Other contenders include X Country, who consistently posts Beyer Speed Figures in the 100 range, and Promise of War, who upset the Tri-State last year for trainer Pat Cuccurullo.

The Tri-State, named for the region wherein Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois come together, is the highlight of what traditionally is one of the most well attended days of the Ellis meet. First post is 1:10 p.m. Central.

Jockey Jon Court, who long ago wrapped up his unprecedented fifth straight Ellis riding title, will be away closing day to ride Midway Cat in the Cradle Stakes at River Downs.

Live action on the Kentucky circuit shifts Wednesday evening to Turfway Park, where a 22-day fall meet runs through Oct. 3.