02/25/2006 1:00AM

Lawyer Ron wires the Southwest

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Coady Photography
Lawyer Ron wins the Southwest Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Lawyer Ron paid tribute to his late owner and breeder, James T. Hines Jr. on Saturday, when he won his fourth straight race in the $250,000 at Oaklawn Park. The one-mile race was the first of two local preps for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby.

"I'm so happy," said Laine Nunn, who is Hines's daughter. "I know my dad's here. I wore his jacket today."

Nunn came from in Kentucky for the race, which was held one day after her father's funeral. Hines died of an accidental drowning.

Lawyer Ron ($3) broke sharp in the Southwest and went to the lead, running the opening quarter in 23.29 seconds. He raced off the rail down the backside, continuing to lead through a half-mile in 48.02. In the stretch, Lawyer Ron remained in control of the race despite a bid from Steppenwolfer, winning by three-quarters of a length. Lawyer Ron covered the distance over a track that had been upgraded to fast two races earlier in 1:40.

"We wanted to get away from the field if we possibly could and pick the part of the racetrack we wanted to be in," said Bob Holthus, who trains Lawyer Ron.

John McKee rode the winner, who heading into the Southwest had won an allowance at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs on Dec. 9; the $100,000 Diamond Jo Mile at Evangeline Downs on Dec. 31; and the Grade 3, $250,000 Risen Star during the Fair Grounds meet Jan. 14.

With the Southwest victory, Lawyer Ron remained unbeaten on dirt and also gave Holthus his fifth win in the stakes. Holthus won last year's running with Greater Good, and also captured the Southwest in 2001 with Son of a Rocket; 2000 with Afternoon Affair; and 1988 with Proper Reality.

Lawyer Ron has now won 5 of 12 career starts. He earned $150,000 for his win in the Southwest, and his career earnings stand at $440,008. Lawyer Ron now races for Hines's estate. He is a 3-year-old son of Langfuhr.

Steppenwolfer finished three and a quarter lengths in front of third-place finisher Red Raymond, who is also trained by Holthus. The remaining order of finish was Music School, Mark of Success, Sharp Attack, Kingsfield, Celluloid Hero, Travelin Leroy and Agrapha.

Attendance at Oaklawn on Saturday was 22,249. Handle on the 11-race card Saturday was $7,699,232, with $2,002,811 of that amount bet ontrack at Oaklawn.

Mountain Valley: Urban Guy wins for Ritchey

Also on the card, Urban Guy gave trainer Tim Ritchey his second straight win in the $50,000 Mountain Valley when he cruised to a 5 3/4-length win over Fidrych in the six-furlong race for 3-year-olds. Last year, Ritchey sent out Afleet Alex to win the race, launching a 3-year-old campaign in which he went on to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Urban Guy, whom Ritchey designated for sprint stakes at Oaklawn earlier in the meet, sat about two lengths off Catonight, who set a pressured pace of 22.58 seconds for the opening quarter and 46.50 for the half-mile. Urban Guy bided his time on the turn, advanced into the stretch, and overtook Catonight past the eighth pole. Urban Guy covered six furlongs over a good track in 1:12.04 under Robby Albarado.

"He ran very well," Ritchey said. "Robby rode him perfect. We had discussed letting him sit back off the pace."

Urban Guy earned $30,000 for his first stakes win. Overall, he has won 3 of 8 starts and $108,680. Ritchey claimed Urban Guy on behalf of owner Greg L. Warren for $40,000 on Oct. 11, the day Urban Guy went wire to wire to win his maiden at Delaware Park.