07/07/2004 12:00AM

Fairmount: Move spurs Zimmerman


COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - Ramsey Zimmerman has long been a proficient jockey, having ridden at Arlington and Hawthorne earlier in his six-year career.

But it wasn't until Zimmerman, a 22-year-old Chicago-area native, set up stakes at Fairmount Park and began garnering top mounts from its leading stables that he began to appear near the top of the national leaderboard. Through July 5, Zimmerman ranks fourth among jockeys in total wins, with 156.

Zimmerman, who through Tuesday had 581 career wins, credits riding for Lou O'Brien's Shamrock Meadows Stables with much of his local success.

"It's one of the best working stables that I've ever seen," said Zimmerman. "I'd like to stay here until I win 1,500 races. If I can stay here and keep riding O'Brien horses, that'd be a good way to go. Losing's hard to deal with."

This year, however, Zimmerman has had to deal with losing less than just about any jockey in the nation, boasting the nation's highest winning percentage (28) for jockeys with more than 100 victories.

Zimmerman credits O'Brien for supporting him through a tumultuous Hoosier meet last fall, when he earned a 60-day suspension for a positive marijuana test.

"I've had some hard times," said Zimmerman. "Lou's been there for me. He supported me through the whole thing. He put me right back up."

* Logan's Girl, who is owned by O'Brien, is among 14 horses who have been nominated to run in this Saturday's six-furlong Safely Kept Handicap, a $30,000 stakes race for fillies and mares.