04/14/2011 2:01PM

Finger Lakes trainer-jockey duo should have competition


Chris Englehart and John Davila Jr. have long been the dominant trainer-and-jockey combination at Finger Lakes. Englehart has been the track’s leading trainer for eight straight years and owns 10 titles overall. Davila has finished as Finger Lakes’s leading jockey for nine straight seasons and 11 times overall. But as the track in western New York prepares to launch its 50th season Saturday, there could be some new competition to the long-reigning kings of the hill.

Midwest-based Robert Gorham, the leading trainer at Pinnacle Race Course in Michigan each of the last three years, has shipped in a bunch of horses and has eight runners entered opening day. He has also brought along his go-to rider from Pinnacle, Jeffrey Skerrett.

Among Gorham’s horses on Saturday’s card is the 4-year-old Secrets Only, who went 4 for 10 last season and placed second in the restricted Lansing Stakes for Michigan-breds. Secrets Only is entered in race 7 for a $6,250 claiming price.

Englehart and Davila will team up three times opening day, with Blazin Blues (race 1), Adriatic Pearls (race 4), and Joseph’s Mia (race 6).

If last year is any indication, Englehart will have his stock ready to fire first time back. In the first month of 2010, Englehart went 18 for 36 with a $2.28 return on investment. Other trainers to watch who performed well during the early stages of the 2010 meet include Charlton Baker (13 for 39), Michael Ferrarro (8 for 14), James Acquilano (10 for 35), and Jeremy Englehart (14 for 43).

One other new trainer who could make an impact is Lloyd Lockhart. Formerly based at Suffolk Downs, where he was fourth in the 2009 standings, Lockhart has 20 stalls at Finger Lakes.

John Grabowski, a six-time leading rider at Finger Lakes, will return to action for the first time since being injured in a spill last June in which he sustained a fractured collarbone, multiple broken ribs, and a punctured lung. He is listed to ride six mounts Saturday.

Finger Lakes will offer the same 13 stakes that were run in 2010. As usual, the highlights are the $150,000 New York Derby for 3-year-old statebreds July 16 and the $200,000 New York Breeders Futurity for 2-year-old statebreds Oct. 1.

Steven Crist, publisher and columnist for Daily Racing Form, will hold an informal discussion and question-and-answer session on racing and handicapping during a special fundraiser and dinner Saturday to benefit the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program.