12/01/2006 12:00AM

Elzey's got an eye for talent


The wintry world of Turfway Park is Steve Elzey's, and everyone else just seems to live in it.

Elzey is the jockey agent who has dominated Turfway for years. Having represented such top riders as Willie Martinez, Rafael Bejarano, and Kris Prather during highly productive winters at Turfway, Elzey seemingly finds the right jockey to fit the brand of racing offered during the four-plus months of winter racing at Turfway.

This year, Elzey is handling business for Miguel Mena and apprentice Alonso Quinonez, and lo and behold, they were first and second atop the jockey standings after the first three programs of the Turfway holiday meet that began last Sunday. Mena rode four of the nine winners Thursday night, giving him seven wins. Quinonez has five wins.

Mena, 19, already owns one riding title this year in Kentucky, having pulled away in the final two weeks of the Ellis Park summer meet. A native of Peru, he learned how to ride at the same Lima jockey school as countrymen Edgar Prado and Bejarano.

Quinonez, 23, got off to a good career start by riding five winners at the Churchill Downs fall meet, which recently ended. A native of Mexico, Quinonez is the youngest brother of Luis and Belen Quinonez, both established jockeys in the Midwest.

Leparoux back in the saddle

Mena and Quinonez are not unlike mice playing while the cat is away. Julien Leparoux, who set a track record with 167 winners at the winter-spring meet earlier this year, is scheduled to return to action this coming Wednesday night.

Leparoux, the leading jockey in wins this year in North America, rode in California last Sunday, then served out a suspension stemming from a riding infraction at the Churchill fall meet. He then was scheduled to ride this weekend at Hollywood Park before returning for what agent Steve Bass has said will be "pretty much the entire winter" at Turfway, with the exception of occasional stakes engagements for his main client, Patrick Biancone, back in California.

* There is no real feature Sunday at Turfway, when a nine-race card gets off to the usual start of 1:10 p.m. Eastern. Although the customary race-8 feature slot is filled by a $12,500 claiming race for filly-mare sprinters, the program does include several solid races, including two maiden special weights (races 6 and 9) with full fields.

* Turfway issued a press release last week announcing the cancellation of a promotion that involved a ticket giveaway to the Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts football game later this month. The giveaways had been scheduled for Dec. 8 and 15.

* As always, the population of the Churchill backside is dwindling steadily following the close of the fall meet. With a capacity of more than 1,200 horses, only about one-third of that number remains, and those will gradually disperse before the stable area closes Dec. 31. Churchill closes to exterminate, clean, and make repairs in the stable area every winter before reopening in early March.