10/14/2010 2:49PM

Michigan Sire Stakes high point of shortened meet

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HURON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Michigan’s best will do battle Saturday when Pinnacle Race Course stages the Michigan Sire Stakes, a series of six races with total purses of $300,000 which features the progeny of Michigan sires.

Saturday’s card is a welcome day in what has been a difficult season at Pinnacle, which had its racing dates cut in half to 42 programs by the state, which is facing a large budget deficit and refused to pay the salaries of racing officials this year. The track has raced only on weekends.

Ordinarily the 2-year-olds would have been through three stakes prior to the Sire Stakes, but this season only one was offered. Paris Prayer is the toast of the juvenile fillies, with a perfect 2-for-2 record. She comes into her six-furlong race off a five-length win in the $50,000 Sickles Image Stakes last month. Leading rider Tommy Molina gets a return mount for trainer James Jackson, who trains the Meadow Prayer filly for his wife, Laura, and the Red Riding Hood Stables LLC.

◗ The 2-year-old male division lacks a standout but recent winners Gainon and Buy the Law will attract most of the betting action in the six-furlong race.

Gainon, conditioned by leading trainer Robert Gorham for his sister Marion, recently woke up, winning his maiden in a $50,000 claimer. Buy the Law, third that day, came back later to win a maiden special weight next time out.

Jeffrey Skerret rides Gainon and Buy the Law will have Wade Rini aboard.

◗ Elder statesman Meadow Vespers, now 8, will be in search of his fifth Sire Stakes win, having won at the ages of 3, 4, 5, and 6 before his patented outside stretch rally failed him last year. He showed that rally two weeks ago when he came running in the $50,000 Frontier Stakes but was bumped at the eighth pole and finished second, beaten a half-length. Trainer Richard Rettele has a new rider in Ronnie Allen Jr. for John Mack’s Meadow Prayer gelding. Stakes winners Meadow Wise and Romeo Again should also receive wagering support in the mile and an eighth race.

◗ Star Sheba, disqualified from a win in the $50,000 Regret Stakes in July after a paperwork snafu, has been posting some sparkling Beyer Speed Figures while racing out of town for trainer James Jackson and Elkhorn Oaks Inc. Star Sheba was third in last month’s Michigan Oaks to Cute Creation, who won by five lengths that day.

Gary Terrien, who trains Cute Creation for Say Bay Racing LLC, will hand the reins back to Jorge Collazo Jr. for Saturday’s race.

Charlie’s Fire, twice a winner here, will try stakes company for the first time Saturday for trainer Patrick White and owner Felicia Campbell, the CEO of Pinnacle. Federico Mata will ride. The race for 3-year-old fillies will be run at a mile and a sixteenth.

◗ Meadow Magic and Power of Titus have somewhat ruled the 3-year-old male division and should be the choices on Saturday. Meadow Magic won the $20,000 Dowling Stakes for the Jacksons. Power of Titus, owned and trained by Del Waite, won the Mackinac Handicap last month with Octavio Bernal, who gets a return ride.

◗ Owner Henry Mast’s Baba Booyah is the morning line favorite among the older fillies and mares, who will race at a mile and an eighth. Baba Booyah won the Moonbeam Handicap on Aug. 21, but yielded late to be third in the recent Farer Belle Lee while as the high weight.

Baba Booyah will face Valley Loot, who is looking for redemption in the Sire Stakes. The defending Michigan horse of the year, who won this race last year, has yet to visit the winner’s circle this season for trainer Ronnie Allen.