10/16/2002 12:00AM

Insurance saves the chalk players

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - It's why they call it insurance. A stable coupling trained by Ken McPeek was pounded down to 2-5 in the fourth race Wednesday at Keeneland, clearly because one of the McPeek colts, Mustang Jock, had run so well in two previous starts and was being ridden by the ever popular Pat Day.

The other half of the entry was Double Again, a first-time starter by Mutakddim. Horseplayers who wagered on the entry surely were pleasantly surprised when Double Again, ridden by Craig Perret, stormed from far behind to win - much to the relief of those who actually were betting on Mustang Jock, who finished a non-threatening fourth in the maiden special weight race.

Double Again, owned by Dogwood Stable, returned $2.80 to win.

"Sure they were betting on the other horse," McPeek said before greeting Double Again in the winner's circle. "But this colt had been beating pretty much everything in the morning, so he had a right."

Racing history is filled with famous examples of lesser regarded horses coming to the rescue of their highly touted stablemates; the lesser half of an entry is commonly known to horseplayers as insurance. Although Mark Stanley, owner of Mustang Jock, was somewhat disappointed with the results, McPeek seemed relieved by the unexpected turn of events.

"It might have been a little lucky, but I'm glad it worked out," said McPeek.

Stylish maiden win

In her third start, Honorable Peace cruised to a seven-length victory in Wednesday's third race, a maiden-special sprint.

Honorable Peace is by Honor Grades out of Ataentsic, making her a 3-year-old half-sister to No Armistice, a stakes-placed West Coast sprinter. The filly is trained by Al Stall Jr. and owned by B. Wayne Hughes, who also owns No Armistice.

"I had her ready to go in New Orleans, but I had to stop 100 percent on her in February because of a tibial stress fracture in behind," said Stall.

Honorable Peace finally began her career at Saratoga, where she finished second twice. Stall said Hughes "likes to keep going back to the same family, so he was the one who picked her out and bought her" for $220,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales.

The price was right

It must be something about Keeneland. The last time Chief's Hogan won was nine races and over six months ago, when the 5-year-old horse lit up the toteboard at a $90 mutuel on April 10 at Keeneland.

Wednesday, Chief's Hogan galloped past front-running Ingenius to easily win the fifth race, returning $20.60 to win.

"He waits for a price, not me," said trainer Harvey Vanier, whose wife, Nancy, quickly chimed in: "We all wish we could figure him out."

Lotta Rhythm gets there

Lotta Rhythm rallied from last place Wednesday to post a going-away victory in the featured eighth race, a $56,000 allowance for fillies and mares. Lotta Rhythm, trained by Hal Wiggins, finished the 6 1/2-furlong race in 1:17.85 over a good track. She returned $11.20 for her fifth victory in 12 starts and ended a pick six worth $20,689. Calvin Borel was aboard Lotta Rhythm, a 3-year-old Rhythm filly bred and owned by Dolph Morrison.

Red n'Gold and Day

Red n'Gold, a 4-year-old filly who has spent most of the year competing against some of the top distaffers in the Midwest, figures as a strong favorite under Pat Day in the Friday feature at Keeneland, a $57,000 allowance at 1 1/16 miles.

Red n'Gold, trained by veteran Bob Holthus, drew post 5 in a field of seven fillies and mares.

Earlier on Friday, a starter allowance at the rarely run distance of 1 5/8 miles will go as the third race. A field of eight was entered.

Two other allowances also are carded Friday.

Donna Salmen dies at 64

Donna Oak Salmen, the wife of veteran trainer Pete Salmen Jr., died Saturday in Lexington after an illness. She was 64.

The Salmen family has a rich history in racing, having been affiliated for years with the old Crimson King Farm. Besides her husband, who trained the standout filly Bourbon Belle in the late 1990's, Mrs. Salmen is survived by a son, breeder Peter Salmen 3rd, and two daughters, one of whom is Susan Bunning, a horse owner who is president of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. A funeral service was held on Wednesday.

* Raymond V. Lehr Sr., the father of longtime Churchill Downs track superintendent Butch Lehr and Trackside superintendent David Lehr, died Tuesday in Louisville after an illness. He was 80. A funeral service was scheduled for Thursday.