11/06/2002 1:00AM

Ladies Night plays encore at Hoosier


ANDERSON, Ind. - Ladies Night, which will be held at Hoosier Park for the second time Saturday, has become somewhat of an unexpected hit. This year's edition will bring together 11 female riders from the Midwest who will compete in five races on the program.

Director of publicity Tammy Knox credited Chris Thompson-Johns, head of the marketing department here last year, with coming up with the idea. It coincided with the publication of "Win, Place, Show: A Female Fan Guide to Thoroughbred Racing," by Betsy Berns.

Berns attended last year along with ESPN racing commentator Caton Bredar and Debra Giglio, a Southern California-based author. While planning last year's promotion, members of the publicity and marketing departments kept adding ideas and Ladies Night evolved into a yearly event to spotlight females in the industry.

"Last year we had to hustle a little bit," said Knox, adding that racing secretary Warren Groce "just hustled it up and got three races put together in a limited time."

Local riders participating in this year's event are Rhonda Collins, Cindy Noll, Beth Butler, and Joddie Fortner. Coming in from out of town are Patricia Cooksey, Zoe Cadman, Greta Kuntzweiler, Mary Doser, Zoe Cadman, Bonnie Castaneda, Jennifer Bramblett, and Cindy Medina. Guest commentators for the evening will be Christine Gabriel from Arlington Park, Margo Flynn from Tampa Bay Downs, and Jeannine Edwards of ESPN.

The five races will offer purses ranging from $10,000 to $15,000. One of the races will also be restricted to gray and roan horses.

Cooksey was sidelined until earlier this year by her battle with breast cancer, a theme that has been tied into this year's event through a fund-raising effort to benefit Lee National Denim Day and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

* Apprentice Rafael Bejarano posted a trio of two-win nights last week. His riding double on Monday night's card gave him 41 wins for the season, equaling Tommy Pompell's apprentice mark set in 1997. With seven wins last week, Bejarano moved into fourth in the rider standings with four weeks remaining in the season. His consistent and ground-saving rides have earned him a fair share of mounts nightly in this sizable jockey colony.