09/01/2005 11:00PM

Landrum takes advantage of break

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When entries were taken last Sunday morning for Thursday's races at Ellis Park, apprentice jockey Christin Landrum found herself without a mount. That was before fate stepped in.

Landrum, 23, won her first race Sunday afternoon at Ellis Park, scoring aboard Obrien in ninth race. Then in the days that followed, her friend and fellow apprentice jockey Jordan Charkoudian became sick from an infected spider bite, which led to Landrum picking up three of Charkoudian's Thursday mounts.

All three won. Imadeitmom took the second race, paying $34.40; Puddles Pleasure won the seventh at an $8.80 mutuel; and Fight for Peace got up by a nose for Landrum in the last race as the $6.60 favorite.

Landrum laughed at the good luck she experienced with trainer Barbara Conner, a former Catholic nun, who placed her on her first winner Sunday, as well as on two of her three winners Thursday.

"I did go to a Catholic school," Landrum said of her experience growing up in Union, Ky.

She said she felt bittersweet emotions Thursday, knowing her winners came aboard mounts intended for Charkoudian.

She noted that her opportunities are partially the result of the success of other apprentice riders, such as Charkoudian and Dane Kobiskie, even going beyond Thursday's pick-up mounts. When a trainer settles on riding an apprentice, if that rider is unavailable, the trainer will often look for another apprentice as a replacement. "Bugs feed off of other bugs," she said.

Landrum, who worked as an assistant to trainer Mike Maker prior to pursuing her riding career, plans to split riding time at Hoosier Park and Turfway when the Ellis Park concludes its meet Monday.

Like all young riders, she wants to gain experience and learn from her mistakes. "I've got a great teacher," she said, referring to her fianc?, jockey Chris Herrell. "He critiques every one of my rides."

Meanwhile, Charkoudian will miss the rest of the Ellis Park meet at least as a result of what her doctor believes was a brown recluse spider bite along an inner thigh, her agent, Larry Edwards said Friday. He said the wound was lanced and treated at a local hospital and "when I talked to her [Thursday], she had crutches and was able to sit down." He declined to speculate when she could return to riding.

Recent maiden winner the favorite

Sunday's featured race at Ellis Park is the $29,750 Smart N' Daring overnight handicap, a 5 1/2-furlong dash on turf for 2-year-old fillies that drew a field comparable to an entry-level allowance. Gasia, a fast maiden winner in an off-the-turf race Aug. 18, looms a narrow favorite over Leo's Gal, an 8 3/4-length winner of a $50,000 claiming race Aug. 10.

Ellis Park closes Monday with a card highlighted by the $50,000 Tri-State Handicap and two supporting overnight handicaps. The Tri-State, a turf contest at 1 1/16 miles, is expected to have a field of seven or eight, led by G P Fleet, B. A. Way, Freefourinternet, Onthedeanslist, and Mighty Military.

Turfway stakes gets 47 nominees

With Turfway set to become the first North American track to race over a Polytrack surface when its meet begins Wednesday, interest from horsemen is high, track president Bob Elliston said. The first stakes race of the meet, the Sept. 10 Weekend Delight Stakes, drew 47 nominations, double the number that track officials had expected.

Horsemen from all over the country - and from the United Kingdom - are considering sending horses to the Kentucky Cup at Turfway Sept. 17, Elliston said. Polytrack was first introduced for racing in Great Britain at Lingfield Park in 2001. Logistics for the potential transportation and quarantine of foreign horses must be worked out, said Elliston.