08/06/2007 11:00PM

Gonzalez and Jacinto noses apart for rider lead


BOSSIER CITY, La. - The battle for leading rider is as hot as the weather, with Carlos Gonzalez and John Jacinto trading positions atop the rider standings it seems just about daily. Gonzalez holds a 69-68 advantage heading into the new week despite taking off his mounts Sunday after a frightening incident in the walking ring before Saturday's eighth race.

Gonzalez was kicked in the abdomen by first-time starter Dori's Big Boy as the "riders up" signal was given, and he lay prone on the ground while being attended to by paramedics. Gonzalez was treated and released at nearby Willis Knighton Medical Center with a bruised kidney and was expected to return to riding on Thursday.

"Carlos was not a fan of wearing a [safety] vest before," said his agent, Richie Price. "But he sure is now. It would have a whole lot worse."

Meche's return imminent

Last year's leading rider, Lonnie Meche, is scheduled to see his doctor this week and is expected to be cleared to ride, according to agent Tony Martin. Meche has been sidelined since April due to a leg injury sustained in a spill at Evangeline Downs. Meche rode 99 winners in 2006.

Purely Class one to watch

Fans got a look last weekend at a talented and developing 2-year-old filly named Purely Class. A Florida-bred daughter of Pure Precision, she won at first asking at Evangeline Downs on July 6, drawing away impressively in the stretch to win by better than 10 lengths.

Taking on five male opponents in Saturday's second race at six furlongs, she led at every pole and won by 1 1/4 lengths in a fine time of 1:11.20.

Super Saturday nominations due

Nominations close Friday for the next "Super Saturday" of stakes action, slated for Aug. 18. On the card will be five stakes worth a total of $400,000. The $75,000 Sunny's Halo and Donnie Wilhite will feature

2-year-olds of both genders on the grass. The $75,000 Lyrique is for

3-year-old fillies on the turf, and the $75,000 Concern, also on the grass, is for 3-year-olds and up. The highlight of the afternoon will be the $100,000 Prelude Stakes for 3-year-olds on the main track. In addition to the winner's share of $60,000, the top prize includes an all-expenses-paid berth in the Super Derby on Sept. 22.

* Thursday's feature is an optional $20,000 claiming race that brings together Myoldmansam, a debut winner for trainer Pat Mouton, and starter allowance specialist Eagle Town, who puts his five-race win streak on the line in the seven-furlong event.