12/12/2009 12:00AM

Locke, Hartman flying under radar


Lost in the glare of the record-setting season that trainer Steve Asmussen has had at the Remington Park meet that closes Monday were the strong performances of trainers John Locke and Chris Hartman.

Both will now head to different regions. Locke will look to continue what has been one of the best years of his career at Delta Downs and Sam Houston Race Park. Hartman, meanwhile, is heading to New Mexico to chase his fourth consecutive title at Sunland Park.

Locke is the second-leading trainer this meet at Remington, where he had won 32 races from 154 starters through Friday. His stable has earned $530,709 at the meet, which has helped push Locke past $2 million in stable earnings for the year for the second time in his career.

"We did have a good meet," Locke said of Remington. "I think a lot of it was just luck and also the owners letting me run them where they have a chance to win. I think the real important thing is to have owners that are willing to let you win with their horses."

Hartman is third in the Remington standings, with 21 wins from 103 starters. He has set up a 30-horse division at Sunland, which opened its meet Friday, and will have an additional group of horses based at a training center near the track for the meet that runs into April."We've got a real mix of horses," Hartman said. "That's the main ingredient for New Mexico. You have to have the right kind of horses to run there. The New Mexico-breds are essential, and we have a handful of those. I also have a couple of nice 2-year-olds, and I'm hoping they're going to be all right."

Asmussen, through Friday, had won 97 races from 348 starters, crushing Remington's previous record for trainer wins in a season of 69. Jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan, who has been a regular aboard Asmussen's starters in Oklahoma City, will take the track's riding title. He had won with 76 of 256 mounts through Friday.

New Mexico changes Clenbuterol rule

The New Mexico Racing Commission has voted to eliminate threshold levels for Clenbuterol, essentially taking a "zero-tolerance" stance on the bronchial dilator in a policy that goes into effect Tuesday.

Clenbuterol is a Class 3 drug violation in New Mexico, according to commission staff. The commission made the rule change on the recommendation of its medication committee.

A representative of the medication committee did not return a call seeking the reasoning behind the policy change.

New Mexico's new stance on Clenbuterol is similar to the zero-tolerance policy in place in Texas, which treats it as a Class 4 drug violation.

Cherokees buy Blue Ribbon

Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla., which was shuttered on Nov. 28, has been purchased by Cherokee Nation in a deal that closed Thursday. The tribe operates Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa but said there are no immediate plans for use of its new acquisition.

"We had an opportunity to purchase property that is within our tribal jurisdiction, so we always closely consider that and see it as a wise business decision to take advantage of that any time we can," David Stewart, the chief executive officer of Cherokee Nation Entertainment, said in a news release issued Friday.

Blue Ribbon, which had been owned by Choctaw Nation, is situated on 100 acres. The purchase price was not disclosed Friday, but the sale included the land, the track's facilities, and equipment.

Choctaw Nation purchased Blue Ribbon in November 2003 and announced this past October that it was closing the track's doors because of lack of patron support. Blue Ribbon had operated 250 electronic gaming machines in addition to a mixed race meet.

Will Rogers Downs, which also has electronic gaming, will open a 32-date Thoroughbred meet on March 6. Cherokee Nation also operates the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa as well as six Cherokee Casinos.

Dominguez wins trainer title at Zia

Trainer Henry Dominguez was the leading Thoroughbred trainer during the Zia Park mixed meet that ended Dec. 6. He won 30 races from 118 starters for stable earnings of $646,782. The leading Thoroughbred rider was Isaias Enriquez, who went 44 for 208, for mount earnings of $844,358.

Zia named Black Hills, the winner of the $200,000 Distance Championship for Thoroughbreds, and Runnning Brook Gal, who took the Grade 1 Southwest Juvenile for Quarter Horses, its respective horses of the meet for 2009.

A call to a Zia official requesting attendance and handle figures for the meet was not returned. The track canceled its final two programs last week due to inclement weather. Zia ended up running its last card Dec. 6, and the program, which featured four stakes, drew an ontrack crowd of 1,844. Handle on the card from all sources was $372,624.

* An appeals hearing concerning Stolis Winner, who finished first in the 2008 All American Futurity for Quarter Horses but was disqualified for a caffeine positive, was to have been held the first week in December but it has been continued. A new date has yet to be determined, according to a spokesperson for the New Mexico Racing Commission.