05/12/2004 12:00AM

Great Lakes Downs track report


MUSKEGON, Mich. - Terry Houghton made a triumphant return to Great Lakes Downs, where he is the winningest rider in the five-year history of the western Michigan oval. He rode six winners in four days to vault into a tie for fifth in the local standings. Freddie Mata leads with 18 wins through 10 days of the meet.

Houghton hadn't ridden at Great Lakes Downs since the summer of 2002. He won the riding title here in 2002 despite missing the last two months of the meet. He suffered a serious concussion on Aug. 25, 2002, and didn't ride again until last December at Tampa Bay Downs, where he finished second in the jockey race. He also missed the end of the 2001 Great Lakes meet with an injury, and Mata inherited the title.

Houghton won with his second mount back on Friday evening, and had two winners on the card. Saturday was "Terry Houghton Day" at Great Lakes, where the popular jockey visited with fans and posed for pictures with them. His only winner that evening, fittingly, was in the race named for him. He rallied Deb's Favorite Gift for the win.

She is conditioned by leading trainer Gerald Bennett, with whom Houghton has teamed for much success at this track and others.