05/08/2007 11:00PM

Great Lakes Downs starts 2007 meet


Great Lakes Downs raised the curtain last Saturday on what may be the last act in its nine-year drama. Magna Entertainment, which operates the western Michigan oval, has said it probably will not open the facility in 2008. The live races started after the Kentucky Derby simulcast in front of the largest Derby crowd ever at the track. Many stayed around for the eight-race opener.

Mary Anne Barron, who took over the racing secretary's post from Allan Plever, had mostly full fields for the opening two days, which were Saturday and Monday. Barron, who was instrumental in getting the former harness track open for Thoroughbreds in 1999, was a trainer here for the first eight seasons.

Jockey Mike Allen was the star on Monday, winning four races. He won the fifth race with Havin Fun Now ($12.60) for trainer Richard Rettele and the sixth on Robyntheloot ($17.60) for trainer Randy Russell. The Argentina-bred Anjiz Crypto, trained by Allen's father, Ronnie Allen Sr., won the seventh race as the favorite at $4.40. The Allens then teamed up for the nightcap on Dot the Page ($8.80).

Also with a training double Saturday was Gerald Bennett, who is defending his 2006 training crown. Great Lakes Downs newcomer Luis Robletto posted a riding double Saturday, while regular Glenmore Mayhew lit up the toteboard with Jasumatch, winning at $114.60.

Jareth Loveberry was unseated when his mount, Cart of Stars, suffered a heart attack while running in Monday's first race. Loveberry was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but later released.

Missing from the Great Lakes's riders colony is Terry Houghton, who has won several riding titles at this track, including the 2006 title. He is currently riding at Indiana Downs.

Billy Lee Williams, clerk of scales here last year, and Thistledown regular Dick Garrison join Daryl Parker in the Great Lakes stewards' stand.