06/27/2006 11:00PM

Great Lakes Downs track report


Freddie Mata, a crowd favorite at Great Lakes Downs, returns to the track Saturday after recovering from a riding mishap, according to his agent, Frank Garoufalis. In February, Mata, a native of Mexico, broke his leg when his mount went over the rail at Tampa Bay Downs. Mata won the riding championship here in 2000 and has finished second several times.

Mata's first day back, appropriately enough, is also Jockeys Across America Day. The track will host several fund-raising efforts, including a silent auction of racing memorabilia and dinners with jockeys, a jockeys' foot race, and giveaways.

* Trainer Ross Russell, 23, saddled his first winner Tuesday evening, when Open Journey led all the way for a 2 3/4-length win under apprentice Jareth Loveberry. Russell, the son of trainer Randy Russell, is in his second year of veterinary school at Michigan State University. He oversaw his father's string of runners last year, when the elder Russell broke his leg in a paddock accident.

Loveberry, 18, had a riding double on the card, winning the third race aboard Stellaspeed, who is trained by Randy Russell. Loveberry is fourth in the local standings with 23 wins.

* Terry Houghton, the runaway leader with 51 wins at the meet, had four winners Tuesday. He won the early daily double for trainer Robert Gorham with Lofty Flare ($9.20) and Rockem S'more ($4.20). Houghton also won aboard Paris Passport ($4.40) in the sixth for leading trainer Gerald Bennett and aboard Do the Impossible ($22.40) in the seventh race for Gorham.