05/08/2002 12:00AM

Great Lakes track report


MUSKEGON, MICH. - Less than two weeks into the fourth season of racing at Great Lakes Downs, two riders are dominating the standings. Last year's champion, Terry Houghton is tied with the 2000 top jockey, Freddie Mata, with 10 wins each. Mata, with 42 mounts, six fewer than Houghton, visited the winner's circle five times Saturday evening.

* Trainer Kelly Benjamin usually has her hands full with other trainers' horses, ponying them all morning and taking them to the post during the races. With a small stable of five of her own runners, she has quietly put together an impressive 3-for-3 record this meet.

On April 29, the Benjamin-trained Party Huff Party was second in the third race, but was bumped up later to the win after a postrace test revealed an overdose of Butazolidin in the original first-place finisher.

Miss Ducketts ($4.40) won on May 3 and Swinging Ridge ($8.40) was victorious on May 6 for Benjamin.

* Former jockey John Rupert celebrated his first win as a trainer last Friday when Michael ($21.80), owned by Sharon Maker, won the sixth race. Rupert, a longtime Detroit Race Course regular, had worked on the gate and in the jockeys' room here prior to taking out his trainer's license. He galloped horses for the late trainer George Maker.

Following Maker's death last winter, his widow turned the stock over to Rupert.