05/20/2003 11:00PM

Fonner Park: Hellman runners meet


Collinsville, Ill. - The circumstances of the condition book forced trainer Leroy Hellman to run his two best horses, Canyon de Oro and WW Robin de Hood, against each other in Tuesday's fourth race. In all likelihood they will meet again in the Red Doggit Handicap at one mile June 3.

"I felt like they both needed a mile race before the handicap, and this was the only option I had besides go to Chicago," Hellman said.

Running as an uncoupled entry, WW Robin de Hood went off as the 8-5 favorite while Canyon De Oro was 7-2. WW Robin de Hood prompted the pace under jockey Luis Robletto through six furlongs run in 1:14.80, then took over entering the stretch and took a clear lead past the eighth pole.

Mike Gale allowed Canyon de Oro to lag behind the field early on, then launched a rally while five wide on the far turn. The two battled late, with Canyon de Oro taking a half-length advantage nearing the wire.

"I couldn't have told you who was going to get it until the very end," Hellman said.

Hellman claimed WW Robin de Hood for $12,500 last August and has been invited to compete in the Claiming Crown at Canterbury this year. "I have his season planned around that race," Hellman said.

Trainer Eddie Essenpreis prepped stable star Tindell for the Red Doggit Tuesday as well. Tindell won a six-furlong allowance race under jockey Cindy Medina. Fairmount's races at the beginning of the season are limited to sprints between 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 furlongs, and Essenpreis traditionally gets off to a slow start. This year has been no exception. Essenpreis won with just 6 of his first 61 runners, but over the last seven racing days has won with 8 of 22, giving him a total of 14, good for third in the standings.

Ralph Martinez is atop the trainer standings with 48 wins, and Kim Hammond is in second with 18. Steve Manley is fourth with 12 and Hellman rounds out the top five with 11.