06/10/2008 11:00PM

Harris fares better at Fairmount


Jockey Sylvia Harris climbed a mountain just to win one race last year in Chicago. Now, she is winning fairly regularly on the other end of Illinois.

Based at Fairmount Park near St. Louis this season, Harris booted home her 11th winner of the meet when she guided Coach Elbe There to victory on Tuesday.

Harris, 41, received much national attention last year. Not only is she the rare African-American woman to actually become a practicing jockey, she got started at a late age, and has had to deal with bipolar disorder since early adulthood.

Harris said she moved her tack to Fairmount this summer figuring it would be difficult for a rider struggling for mounts at Hawthorne to get any business at the Arlington Park meet. A good guess, since Tim Thornton, who won the riding title the last two Hawthorne meets, was just 12 for 107 through Sunday's races at Arlington.

"That's part of why I came down here," Harris said, reached by phone after the races Tuesday. "I wasn't sure whether or not it was a fluke, whether I could do it and get better. I knew at Arlington I wouldn't get a shot. People said if you really want to ride horses, come down to Fairmount."

Harris, who maintains a residence in the Chicago area, is tied for sixth in the Fairmount jockey standings, but may not be able to devote herself full-time to race-riding at Fairmount the rest of the summer. She said that the publishing house Harper-Collins has contracted her to produce a book about her life, a project that will command more of her time in coming months.- Marcus Hersh

Indiana Downs

Ryans Thunder stalked a hotly contested early pace, then shook off a bid from Middle Linebacker through midstretch to take the $50,000 Governor's Stakes at Indiana Downs on Tuesday afternoon.

Ryan's Thunder ($5.60), sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of nine Indiana-bred 3-year-olds, covered the mile and 70 yards over a fast track in 1:42.52 while earning his third straight win of the meet. The race was originally carded for one mile on the turf course but was switched to the main track following Monday's rains.

Owned by Pine Creek Farm and trained by George Leonar, Ryan's Thunder won his maiden by 7 1/4 lengths locally on April 25. He returned on May 19 in another race taken off the turf, winning an entry-level allowance by 9o1/2 lengths over sloppy going. He won Tuesday under Victor Lebron and boosted his career mark to 3-0-2 from 8 starts and earnings of $50,983.

* Also on Tuesday's card, in the third leg of the Don K Memorial starter handicap for older horses on the turf, the mare Princess Composer, with Jose Camejo aboard, shook off her challengers to claim a 3 1/4-length win as the 2-5 favorite in a field of seven.