05/08/2008 11:00PM

Mena rides into spotlight with five-win day


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Jockey Miguel Mena has ridden in Kentucky for nearly two years, winning riding titles at Turfway Park and Ellis Park (as well as at Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania) and ranking among the leaders at times at Keeneland and Churchill Downs.

For all his success, much of it came quietly - that is, until Thursday afternoon at Churchill Downs, when he caught the attention of horseplayers and horsemen by winning five of the track's nine races. His banner day vaulted him into a tie for second place in the rider standings with Robby Albarado, through Thursday, trailing only Julien Leparoux.

Mena, a 21-year-old native of Lima, Peru, swept the early pick three with victories aboard Treasure Hunter ($8.20), Tiz My Dream ($6.20), and Speak of Kings ($6). Then, after second-place finishes in the fifth and sixth races, he took the late double with Tiz Now Tiz Then ($6.40) and Unbridled Spring ($5.60).

"I've just got to keep working hard and business will be good," he said Friday.

Making his five-win day all the more special was that his father, Jose Mena, himself a jockey for 17 years, celebrated his birthday Thursday and watched the races via simulcast in Peru.

Mena said he thought it was the first time he had won as many as five races in a day.

It certainly was not a first for a rider at Churchill Downs. Jockeys have recorded five victories in a day 49 times.

Hall of Fame rider Pat Day holds the all-time single-day record for wins at Churchill Downs with seven, accomplished on June 20, 1984. Day rode six winners on a card four times, as did five other riders, including Leparoux and Calvin Borel at last year's spring meet.

Mena has the schooling for success, being a graduate of Peru's Jorge Bernardini Yori Jockey School, the same riding academy attended by Rafael Bejarano and Edgar Prado.

Honor in War retirement brings up betting story

The 2003 Woodford Reserve Turf winner Honor in War has been retired and negotiations are under way for the horse to stand at stud in Australia, where he has raced since late 2006, co-owner Will Wolford said Friday.

A 9-year-old Lord at War Horse, Honor in War began his career in the U.S. before moving to Australia after partial interest in the horse was sold to Australian interests.

His biggest win there came in the Villiers Stakes, which he won by disqualification when the stewards ruled champion sprinter Takeover Target, who crossed the wire first, had interfered with Honor in War.

Paul McGee, who trained Honor in War for 3rd Turn Stable when the horse raced in the U.S., said Honor in War's win in the Woodford Reserve on Derby Day in 2003 was one of his most memorable as a trainer.

He laughed in reflecting on how he cashed betting his horse. He said he neglected to wager to win on Honor in War, who paid $50.60, instead playing a $40 cold daily double of Honor in War to Atswhatimtalknabout - a horse trained in the by his brother-in-law, Ron Ellis - in the next race, the Kentucky Derby.

Or so he thought. The next day, while being razzed by his late father, Jimmy, for not having bet his horse to win, McGee discovered the mutuel clerk had made an error, giving him a daily double of Honor in War to Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby winner, instead of to Atswhatimtalknabout, who ran fourth. McGee said the error resulted in him collecting $12,000 or $13,000 after taxes.

"That's the story and true," he said.

Stratostar looks for sixth win this year

When Stratostar races in Sunday's ninth race, a starter allowance for horses that have raced for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2007-2008, he has a chance to do something no horse has yet to do in 2008 - win six races.

Through Thursday, Stratostar was one of 11 horses in North America to win five races this year, and one of just two that is undefeated in five starts this year, the other being Norristown Stakes winner Coyoteshighestcall.

Only by a stroke of luck is Stratostar still starter eligible, and in a position to win his sixth straight this year. Trainer Ken McPeek said that about a year and a half ago he entered Stratostar for a $10,000 claiming race at Turfway on Dec. 31, 2006, but the race did not attract enough horses to become part of the race card. The track offered a similar race, a $12,500 claimer, for racing on the next day, Jan. 1, 2007, and it filled, and Stratostar ran, finishing fourth.

If he had raced a day earlier, as McPeek intended, his starter eligibility would have expired in 2007. "Things happen for a reason," McPeek said.

Indian Chant can keep Moss rolling

Owner Maggi Moss is having her usual strong Churchill Downs meeting, winning with four of her first five starters through Friday. On Sunday she aims to pick up another victory when Churchill Downs's six-furlong track-record holder Indian Chant races against Kelly's Landing and four other sprinters in the featured seventh race, a $60,000 allowance.

Indian Chant, whom Moss calls her "favorite" of the 70 to 75 horses she owns, appears difficult to defeat if he runs back to his last race, a close runner-up finish in a fast six-furlong allowance ace at Keeneland April 9 timed in 1:08.49 for six furlongs.

"The thing that is most amazing about the last race at Keeneland, he gets a 106 [Beyer Speed Figure] and one and a half on the [Ragozin] Sheets, and he got beat," she said.

* Steve Peery began work Thursday at Churchill as the new Equibase chart-caller at Kentucky tracks. Peery, 37, has been calling charts for 14 years, primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Peery replaces Cliff Guilliams, who called charts on the circuit for more than 20 years. Guilliams died unexpectedly April 12 at age 52.

* A Mother's Day giveaway here Sunday includes a scratch-off card for each customer. Five winners will each receive a package that includes two tickets to Millionaire's Row for the 2009 Kentucky Derby and a $1,000 Visa gift card.

* Jockey Bill Troilo and his agent of 16 years, Mary Ellis, have parted ways. Troilo's business now will be handled by Steve Rieser.