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Manley and Garcia part ways
COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - There are times when being good simply isn't good enough. At Fairmount Park, no one is more familiar with this harsh reality than jockey David Garcia, who has been supplanted in second-leading trainer Steve Manley's operation by veteran jockey Tommy Pompell. The replacement comes despite Garcia's having the second-best winning percentage (32 victories in 177 starts as of July 20) among Fairmount jockeys with more than 100 starts.
Manley says the switch was prompted by Garcia's work habits.
"To be honest with you, he's lazy," Manley said of Garcia, who had a mere three mounts Tuesday aboard rival trainers' horses after garnering seven or eight per night when Manley was putting him up regularly. "He don't work real hard in the mornings."
For his part, Garcia, who easily won the July 5 jockey's footrace at Fairmount despite running the final 50 yards backwards, pins the split on a July 7 race at Ellis Park, when Garcia rode a Manley trainee, Lettuce Pray, to a third-place finish in a six-furlong claiming race.
"There was a race he thinks he should have won, and we finished third," said Garcia. "He got mad over one race. As soon as we got back from Ellis, he put the other rider on his horses. It was fun riding for him, but he's a little bit hard to ride for. He wants to win every time. I hope I can ride for him again. It was a lot of fun. He wins a lot of races.
"He's happy when he's winning," Garcia added, "but he's a bad loser. Just like me."
Pompell, who had been racing at Mountaineer and Tampa, has been Manley's go-to jock in past campaigns.
"Tommy called me about a month ago, and I said, 'If you get here, you'll ride,' " said Manley. "Tommy's a worker. I've always been a Pompell fan. He does real well for me."
Thus far, Manley appears dead right, as Pompell has won eight of the 31 races he has ridden through Tuesday and finished in the money at a 65 percent clip.
* Leading jockey Ramsey Zimmerman won four races Tuesday, including three straight for the top owner-trainer combination of Lou O'Brien and Ralph Martinez in the sixth, seventh, and eighth races. In Saturday's $30,000 Spend a Buck Stakes, O'Brien's Shamrock Meadows barn is expected to saddle the Kentucky-bred colt Markdown, one of 20 horses nominated to run in the mile-and-70-yard race for 3-year-old colts and geldings.
* Jockey John Woodley led a team of neighbors into a blazing Collinsville trailer home last Thursday night, rescuing a woman and her four young sons. The second-youngest of the four sons has since died from injuries sustained from the fire, and the rest of the family remains hospitalized. The boys' father, Howard Phegley Jr., arrived on the scene as the rescue effort was under way.
The best races at Ellis Park generally fall on Saturdays. This week a top race is coming Friday. The 10-race card is headlined by a $40,000 overnight handicap featuring My Boston Gal, winner of the Grade 2 Golden Rod in 2002.
After going unbeaten in three starts as a juvenile that year, My Boston Gal was productive as a 3-year-old over the first half of 2003. In a couple of her best efforts, she won the Beaumont Stakes over Bird Town and later ran fifth in the 2003 Kentucky Oaks.
Unraced for nearly a year, she returned in a May 1 allowance at Churchill, which she won. Another layoff followed, and this time she was upset, finishing a close second as the favorite in an allowance at Churchill on July 4.
Conservatively placed this year, she seems to outclass her rivals in Friday's ninth race easily. Only the stakes-winning Souris, who ran second to Lady Tak earlier this spring, appears to have the ability to challenge her.
Calvin Borel rides My Boston Gal for her trainer, Carl Nafzger.
- Byron King
COLUMBUS, Neb. - The racing scene in Nebraska shifts to Columbus on Friday evening with a 25-day meet that runs through Sept. 12.
Horsemen's Atokad Downs will then host a three-day meet to conclude the state's live racing season the following weekend.
Purses are up again this year thanks to a $250,000 contribution from Omaha Exposition and Racing, the nonprofit entity that operates Horsemen's Park in Omaha. A simulcast facility owned by the Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Horsemen's Park held a four-day festival of racing last weekend. Omaha Exposition and Racing has supplemented purses at the three longest meets in the state: Fonner Park, Lincoln State Fair, and now Columbus.
The bottom purse was raised to $4,000 this year from $3,700 a year ago, while stakes races have been increased to a $10,000-minimum purse value. The Columbus barn area, which can accommodate 800 horses, is filling up, and entries overfilled in five of Friday's nine races.
David Anderson, the two-time defending training champion at Columbus, returns with a full barn, as does Marv Johnson, who captured the title here in 2001. Jockey Armando Martinez, also a two-time defending title-holder, is returning, along with past leaders Jerry Carkeek, Dennis Collins, and Greg Schaefer.
Racing will be conducted Friday through Sunday, with a post time of 6:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sundays and Labor Day. Fridays will again feature $1 hot dogs and draft beers. Women will be admitted free on Fridays throughout the meet.
The opening-day feature is the $10,000-added Inaugural Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Sheso, coming off a second-place finish in the Fantango Lady Stakes at Horsemen's Park last Thursday, is out to make amends. She won the Breeders' Special in Lincoln on July 3 for trainer David Anderson.
- Bill Hodtwalker
CARENCRO, La. - The decision by Evangeline Downs to add five Mondays (Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30) to this year's live Thoroughbred racing schedule was prompted by the success of the track's casino in Opelousas, La., located 15 miles north of Carencro on Interstate 49. Evangeline plans to move its racing operation to its new track in Opelousas next year.
Evangeline raced 82 days in 2002 and increased that number to 87 in 2003. The additional five dates move the 2004 total to 92 days of live racing.
"We are thrilled with the addition of the slots portion of Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino and the positive effect it has in generating purse monies," said David Yount, Evangeline's executive director of racing operations. "We have a small surplus of purse funds, and in lieu of raising purses over the final condition book, we wanted to use this money to give our horsemen more opportunities to run their horses."
Yount said the track had consulted with the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "We have received tremendous support for our decision," he said.
- Jeff Taylor
MUSKEGON, Mich. - Trainer Bob Gorham and owners Henry Mast and Ron Bieke won both of last weekend's stakes at Great Lakes Downs, first with a claimed horse, then with a youngster who beat his elders.
Clever Moon, under Roberto Perez, won Friday's $40,000 Moonbeam for statebred fillies and mares, paying $15.80.
Gorham, a veterinarian, claimed Clever Moon on July 4 at Arlington Park for $18,000, along with partners Bieke and Mast. Clever Moon, a 4-year-old Clear Course filly, won her division of the Michigan Sire Stakes last October, and Gorham looks for her to repeat this year.
"We're going back in the Farer Belle Lee, and hopefully on to the Sire Stakes," he said. "This was the claim of my life."
The next day, Gorham scored a slight upset in the $40,000 Michigan Breeders' Cup Handicap with the sensational 3-year-old Rockem Sockem. He beat four older Michigan-bred rivals and paid $6.20 as the second choice to the odds-on Above the Wind.
Rockem Sockem, owned by Mast, has been unbeaten this year when he faced his contemporaries, but finished second twice to older horses, including Above the Wind. On Saturday, he was an 11 3/4-length winner over the field of past Michigan champions.
* Racing secretary Allan Plever announced a 10 percent purse increase effective Aug. 6.
* Trainer Karl Waters is recovering after a training accident Saturday. He was unseated and hit an upright, breaking his jaw in three places.
- C.A. Shoemaker
NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - The current Thistledown meet, the second of four that make up the track's racing season, ends Saturday, and the race for leading trainer honors may not be decided until the dust settles on the last race.
Jerry Hollendorfer, Rodney Faulkner, and Gary Johnson are in a triple dead heat for the top spot with 22 winners.
In the jockey race, Huber Villa-Gomez has a four-victory advantage, 42-38, over Weldon Cloninger Jr.
The owner's race is also tight, with Hollendorfer holding a one-winner advantage, 14-13, over Faulkner. Mark Yagour is third with 11 winners.
Trainer Tim Hamm had a big weekend. On Saturday he won the $75,000 Rose DeBartolo Memorial with Oh So Easy. On Sunday, he drove to River Downs to send out Bug Hunter to win the Hoover Stakes for 2-year-olds.
Whitemorn remained unbeaten in two starts when he jumped a condition and took a nonwinners-of-three allowance on Monday. A 3-year-old Pride of Burkaan gelding, Whitemorn was very impressive when he won at first asking on July 3. On Monday, he led every step of the way for a 16-length win in 1:10.98, and it looks as though owner-trainer Stephen Ford Jr. has his hands on a runner.
Talking about runners, American Guy, owned and trained by Hollendorfer, has been effective since coming here from California. Hollendorfer stretched him out to a middle distance, and he won his maiden race by eight lengths. He came back in a $10,000 claimer and won by 10, then jumped into the allowance division and beat a solid field, including an Ohio Derby contender, Jandmar.
* The second Morning Glory Club of the season is set for this Saturday on the track apron beginning at 9:30 a.m. Rich Ruda, Thistledown's television analyst, and the track's announcer, Charles Pinnell, will interview a panel of guest speakers, including trainers Hamm, Butch Marshall, and Joe Martin, and jockey Russell Woolsey.
- Chuck Scaravilli
Sam Houston will expand its Quarter Horse race week to four nights beginning on July 29. The track will now race Thursday through Sunday after opening its meet on a Friday-through-Sunday basis in April. The season continues through Nov. 6.
In addition, Sam Houston's stakes schedule will also expand in the next week. The annual Texas Summer Showdown, a program of four stakes for Quarter Horses, will be held July 30. The same day, the annual Texas Quarter Horse Association's yearling sale will begin, and because of a record number of yearlings cataloged, it will run two days this year, through July 31.
Also on July 30-31, the track will put on an Equine Expo.
* Jockey Nicky Wilson, a 25-year veteran rider of Quarter Horses, has informed his longtime patron, trainer Toby Keeton, that this is the last year he will compete as a jockey, according to officials with Sam Houston. Wilson is 45.
- Mary Rampellini