01/18/2008 1:00AM

Injured Vance mending well


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer David Vance is not yet back walking following an automobile accident in December, but his horses are running at Oaklawn. Vance's stable is settled in at his longtime winter base, and his daughter, Trisha, has been overseeing the 18-horse barn. She said her father is in therapy in Louisville, Ky., and is expected to make a trip to Arkansas in about a month.

Vance, 67, is coming back from surgery on his C-4 vertebra. He was injured when his vehicle hydroplaned in inclement weather as he was traveling to Turfway Park. Vance is now in a wheelchair and will advance to a walker before he resumes walking on his own.

"When you have that [type of injury], it's like turning off the light switch - you have to kick-start everything," Trisha said. "He's making rapid improvement. He'll probably be out of there in four to five weeks. He'll still have to do therapy after that. They said he should be walking on his own in six months to a year."

Vance's therapy includes riding a stationary bike.

"They said all the pushing, he's doing 90 percent himself," Trisha added. "So, he is above and beyond most people that have had the same accident. He's bound and determined to get back. He had three sessions a day of therapy, and he asked the therapist to up it to four so he can get back quicker."

Vance is 10 wins shy of career victory No. 3,000. A four-time training title winner at Oaklawn, he held the record for wins by a trainer in an Oaklawn meet (50) from 1974 until 2003, when it was broken by Cole Norman, with 71.

Vance's biggest career victory came in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with Caressing.

Trisha Vance, 43, said she looks for her father to come to Arkansas for long weekends beginning late next month. A longtime assistant to him and the former groom for champion Caressing, she is overseeing a stable that includes Kadira, the winner of the $50,000 Gowell at Turfway who is being pointed for the $50,000 Dixie Belle here Saturday.

Others in the stable include Minewander, the third-place finisher in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie who is a candidate for the $100,000 Instant Racing Breeders' Cup on April 12.

Other 3-year-olds in the barn include Closetoaten, a half-sister to Euchre, a Grade 2 winner of more than $900,000. Due in soon is Java Point, an unraced half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Medaglia d'Oro. Vance trained Medaglia d'Oro up to his maiden win, when he was sold and transferred to trainer Bobby Frankel.

Tommy Vance, 47, helps his sister daily. He said his family is grateful to all who attended a benefit for their father last Sunday in Hot Springs, organized by jockey Terry Thompson.

Catering to 3-year-olds

A year after the top 3-year-olds Curlin, Hard Spun, Teuflesberg, and Xchanger raced at Oaklawn, the track is aiming to showcase some top 3-year-olds again this year.

Oaklawn has added three stakes for 3-year-olds to its racing program this meet, and the first one, the $50,000 Smarty Jones at one mile, will be run Monday.

The Smarty Jones joins Oaklawn's established two-turn stakes series of the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest on Feb. 18, the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel on March 15, and the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 12.

"What we saw is that nowadays, when you look across the country, people are running more 2-year-olds than ever before due to the Breeders' Cup and other graded races," said Pat Pope, racing secretary at Oaklawn. "So, we decided there's already a group of horsemen that are looking for the Triple Crown, and they're already on the road going two turns, and we needed to put something in there right away."

Craig Lytel, stakes coordinator at Oaklawn, is looking for a field of nine or 10 for the Smarty Jones. Among those he considers definite are stakes winners Instill and Poni Colada, as well as Liberty Bull, the runner-up in the Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds.

Later in the meet, Oaklawn is bringing back two sprint stakes for 3-year-olds, the $50,000 Prima Donna for fillies and the $50,000 Bachelor. Neither has been run since 1996. The races are in place for runners that might prove they are not true route horses, Pope said.

"We wanted something for them," Pope said. "We want somewhere for those 3-year-olds to run here."

Gouldings Green heads feature

Gouldings Green heads a strong field of older horses in the featured eighth race Sunday, a one-mile allowance. Others in the race are stakes winners Spotsgone, Forty Acres, and Beta Capo.

Gouldings Green last raced on Nov. 17 at Woodbine and was third in the Grade 3 Autumn. Trainer Tony Reinstedler has given the mount to Eddie Razo Jr.