10/11/2006 11:00PM

Michigan Sire Stakes bring out the best


MUSKEGON, Mich. - The highlight of the Michigan racing season, the Michigan Sire Stakes, will be run Saturday evening at Great Lakes Downs. Each of the six divisions in the series, which is for the progeny of Michigan stallions, has an estimated purse of $132,887.

Trainer Robert Gorham will saddle returning Michigan champions Weatherstorm, who is looking for his fifth straight stakes victory, and Rockem Sockem, who earned horse of the year honors last year for the second time.

The first race of the series, for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, is a rubber match between Dublin Dutchess and Valley Loot. Dublin Dutchess, from the Gorham barn, was second to Valley Loot in the Sept. 2 Temptress Stakes. She then beat Valley Loot, who finished third, in the Sept. 27 Sickle's Image Stakes.

Leading jockey Terry Houghton has the mount on Dublin Dutchess, who is owned by Henry Mast.

Mike Allen will ride Valley Loot, who is trained by his father, Ronnie Allen and owned by his sister Kimberly Allen.

* Armored Truck, owned by Raymond Rech and trained by leading conditioner Gerald Bennett, heads a full field of juvenile colts and geldings going six furlongs. Armored Truck, third in the Patrick Wood Stakes and fourth in the Little Ones Stakes, is the top runner returning from those two contests. Houghton again gets the call.

* Owner/trainer/breeder Shane Spiess entered Nell's Enjoyment and She's Got the Loot in the mile and a sixteenth event for 3-year-old fillies. Nell's Enjoyment accounted for the Ann Arbor Stakes in August and was second in the Michigan Oaks last month. Houghton will once again ride.

Miss Silversides, trained by Gorham for his sister, Marion Gorham, finished just behind Nell's Enjoyment in both stakes races. Mary Doser has the mount.

* Doser was named on both halves of a stable coupling in the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and older. Creative Miss won the recent Farer Belle Lee Handicap and last year's Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Scott Sowle trains both Creative Miss and Half a Glance for owner Todd Weddon.

Deb's Favoite Gift, from the Bennett barn, was second in the Farer Belle Lee after a win in the Moonbeam Handicap. Houghton will ride.

* Weatherstorm has been nothing less than spectacular and has a five-race win streak, the last four of which are stakes. Weatherstorm won last year's 2-year-old Sire Stakes by a widening 16 lengths. He should be the prohibitive favorite in the 3-year-old colts and geldings race, which is at a mile and a sixteenth.

* The finale, for older colts and geldings division at a mile and an eighth, is the toughest to handicap. Rockem Sockem, winless since May 22 but always in the money, cannot be discounted in the big races, as he got up for a 14-length win in last year's Sire Stakes for only his second win of the season. Rockem Sockem is owned by Mast and will be ridden by Houghton.

Dorthys Champ and Meadow Vespers may offer the main competition. Dorthys Champ won the recent Frontier Handicap. Meadow Vespers has not been off the board this season and has one allowance win.

The Saturday card begins at 6:30 p.m. Eastern and the first Sire Stakes is the third race.