07/27/2004 11:00PM

Great Lakes Downs track report

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MUSKEGON, Mich. - Jockey Freddie Mata, Great Lakes Downs' leading rider when he was injured in a training accident June 15, is close to returning to the saddle, agent Frank Garoufalis said Tuesday.

Garoufalis said Mata will have a cast removed from his ankle Saturday and is expected to be back riding within a week after.

Mata, a native of Mexico, was the leading rider when he cracked a bone in his left ankle while schooling a 2-year-old in the gate. He had 49 victories at the time, winning with 25 percent of his mounts, and was 12 wins in front of Terry Houghton.

Mata rode five winners the Saturday before his accident, including a stakes race. His 49 wins is still good enough for third place in the standings.

Houghton, who has 98 tallies at the meet, rode a four-bagger last Friday, including the first three races on the card. Mary Doser, in second place with 50, rode three winners on Tuesday's program. Jason Tervort, next with 44 wins, is leaving Michigan and moving to Arizona to work away from the track.