09/30/2009 12:00AM

Houghton coming home for Sire Stakes


This Saturday's Michigan Sire Stakes has brought the state's top jockey of the last 20 years back home to ride. Terry Houghton, who won numerous titles at Detroit Race Course and Great Lakes Downs, will return to Pinnacle Race Course, where he won the inaugural title last year.

Houghton rode six winners on the June 5-6 opening weekend, then left for greener pastures and purses in West Virginia, where he has won 76 races through Wednesday to be second in the standings at Mountaineer Park.

The Sire Stakes, a series of six races for the progeny of Michigan stallions, were worth as much as $180,000 each a few years ago at Great Lakes Downs. Saturday's races are billed as $50,000-estimated, after the horsemen had to make concessions with the state, which has a large budget deficit, and give up racing days and purse money in order to be able to put on a meet this year. Racing has been conducted in Michigan since 1933.

In the Sire Stakes finale, for older colts and geldings, Houghton will ride Bipolar Express for Gerry Bennett. Bipolar Express won the Sire Stakes last year with Houghton, but was claimed recently out of a win at Presque Isle Downs for $25,000. A week later, he was taken back for $35,000 while finishing fourth after a duel. Saturday's race will be a four-trainer affair as Bennett, James Jackson, Richard Rettele, and leading trainer Robert Gorham have each entered a pair.

* In spite of the bad economy, space is being prepared for several new barns to be built at the track. There are currently 15 barns with 600 stalls.