01/02/2002 1:00AM

Mended Prather rides first winner since surgery

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Kris Prather celebrated the New Year by winning the first race Tuesday, her first victory since she was sidelined because of shoulder surgery in August.

Prather, who dominated the holiday and winter-spring meets last winter at Turfway in Florence, Ky., rode Raymur City to a 3 1/2-length victory in the first race Tuesday.

In all, Prather had 12 mounts Monday and Tuesday; Raymur City was her only winner.

"All the trainers have been great to me since I came back," Prather said. "I'm just really glad to be back to doing what I love."

Quick honeymoon for Lopez

Jockey Jimmy Lopez, who came within one win of tying the record for most wins at a holiday meet, left for a Bahamas honeymoon Tuesday. Lopez will ride here Saturday, then take off before appearing next at the Oaklawn Park meet that begins Jan. 25.

Lopez was not seriously injured in a spill in Sunday's second race, in which jockey Mike Morgan suffered a broken wrist. Morgan is expected to be out about four to six weeks. Two other jockeys, Jose Calo and apprentice Chris Rosier, also were unseated in the incident but were not seriously injured.

Lopez won 38 races during the holiday meet, one shy of the record set by Fabio Arguello Jr. in 1991. Lopez was winless Friday and Saturday and didn't ride in the first race Sunday, before the spill.

The winter-spring meet began Tuesday and runs through April 4.

Three-year-olds go in Prevue Saturday

The first stakes of the winter-spring meet comes Saturday: the $50,000 Turfway Prevue for newly turned 3-year-olds.

A field of about nine is expected for the six-furlong race, the favorites likely to be Perfect Drift, Private Horde, Thunder on Land, and World Champion.

Kuntzweiler staying put

Jockey Greta Kuntzweiler, who rode at Oaklawn Park last winter, will remain at Turfway this year.

"I'm going to stay put," she said. "Last year I went down to Hot Springs mostly to ride for David Vance, but I've built up enough business here to make it worth staying."

A licensing loophole

There are sizable increases in the 2002 licensing fees for industry employees here, but some people are taking advantage of the timing of the hikes and are obtaining licenses at the lower 2001 rates.

The new rates were approved in December but do not go into effect until Wednesday.

Because of Kentucky's budget crisis, rates have more than doubled for 2002. Licenses for owners, jockeys, and trainers are up from $35 to $100. Backstretch employees such as grooms and hot walkers must pay $10 instead of $5, and the fee for mutuel clerks has gone from $20 to $50.

Industry employees seeking the lower rates can purchase licenses at 2001 rates the commission office at Turfway now through Sunday and at the main commission office in Lexington on Monday and Tuesday.