02/21/2003 1:00AM

Lumpkins rides chalk, if . . .


Until the cold and snow and rain began blanketing the Cincinnati area, Jason Lumpkins was cruising atop the North American jockey standings. Through Feb. 12, Lumpkins had ridden 67 winners, a total that had him a few ahead of his former northern California rival Russell Baze.

But when the nasty weather hit Turfway Park, Lumpkins was idled, and Baze surged past him. Through Thursday, Baze had ridden 76 winners to lead all North American riders, while Lumpkins was still stuck on 67.

Whether Lumpkins is to have an opportunity anytime soon to start matching Baze win-for-win again depends on the weather. Turfway canceled for the seventh straight time on Friday, and officials at the Florence, Ky., track said the continuing prospect of poor weather through the weekend also was jeopardizing the Saturday and Sunday cards.

But if by chance the weather were to clear, and the Turfway track surface was deemed safe, Lumpkins probably would have a better shot than any other jockey to win the Sunday feature, the $50,000 Dust Commander Stakes. Lumpkins is named aboard Horrible Evening, a speedy 6-year-old gelding who likely will be the favorite if the race is run.

Horrible Evening, a well-traveled New Jersey-bred who won four of seven starts last year, figures to be on or near the lead. In his last start, the gelding led to midstretch in the Louisiana Handicap at the Fair Grounds before settling for third. Niall O'Callaghan is the trainer.

Probably the most dangerous opponent in the field of 11 older horses entered in the one-mile Dust Commander is the defending champion, Golden Oldie. Trainer David Asbury said he believes Golden Oldie is rounding back to the form that carried the 7-year-old horse to a five-length victory in this race last year.

The Dust Commander, named for the 1970 Kentucky Derby winner, is carded as the ninth of 11 Sunday races. The race was originally set for Feb. 15 but was rescheduled after that card was canceled.

o Marcia Stortz, an apprentice rider who recently recorded her first career victory at Golden Gate Fields, is scheduled to begin riding at Turfway next week. Agent Terry "Jaws" Miller will handle her business. Stortz, 25, is a North Carolina native who grew up in Maryland. Her first ride at Turfway could come as early as Wednesday, Miller said.

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