04/02/2003 1:00AM

Los Alamitos track report

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Miami Cartel looks for his first win since Nov. 1, when he won the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Derby, in the Grade 3, $25,000 Kaweah Bar Handicap at 350 yards on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Since winning the Los Alamitos Derby by a nose over Paul Jones-trained stablemate Agouti, Miami Cartel has finished fifth in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions, his first start against older horses, and fourth behind co-world champion Whosleavingwho in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship.

Also contesting the 350-yard Kaweah Bar Handicap are Takin on Spoon Man, fourth in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship, and Truly Tia, coming off a win in the Carmel Handicap at the Kaweah Bar distance of 350 yards.

DelCOLLINSVILLE, Ill. - Fairmount Park opens its racing season Friday night after the longest break from live racing in track history. There has been no racing here since last year's meet ended Oct. 19.

Fairmount's racing has stabilized since the dreadful 2001 season, during which a bitter battle ensued between Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen over simulcasting revenue. The disagreement was eventually settled in the state legislature.

The highlight of the 2003 season will be the third edition of Illinois Day on Sept. 23, featuring six $35,000 stakes for statebreds.

The purse structure will remain unchanged from 2002, with maiden special weights to run for $7,000 and approximately $65,000 in average daily purses.

Among Fairmount's leading returning trainers are three-time defending champion Ralph Martinez, Thomas Trione Jr., Devon Stortzum, Ted Randazzo, Jimmy Wiser, Jim Zook, and Carmelo Mendoza. J. Michael Baird and Brent Sanders are back at Fairmount this year after leaving in 2001.

Last year's leading rider, Tommy Pompell, is sixth in the standings at Tampa Bay Downs and is unlikely to return to Fairmount, creating a wide-open jockeys' race. Regulars Mike James, Vicente Flores, Mike Gale, Gary Kurek, and Luis Robletto are all back. Meagan Ludlow and Joel Santiago are two newcomers to the jockey colony.

Racing will be conducted on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays starting at 7:30 p.m. and also on Tuesday afternoons with a first post of 1 p.m.