02/24/2009 12:00AM

Milligan climbs to top of standings


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Allen Milligan was just a little tyke when he first showed up at Oaklawn Park back in 1969. He came to town with his father, Eddie Milligan Sr., who had taken a private training position. Fast forward 40 years, and the tyke is topping the standings.

Allen Milligan enters the race week in a three-way tie for leading trainer, along with Jorge Lara and D. Wayne Lukas. Each has won 10 races so far this meet at Oaklawn.

"My dad is really proud," said Milligan, 42. "It's very meaningful."

The younger Milligan, who is a regular at Lone Star Park, Louisiana Downs, and Remington Park, has brought a stable of horses to Oaklawn for each of the past four meets. He has 40 head on the grounds this season for his largest division ever in Hot Springs.

"All of the horses are running honest," he said. "This is by far the best stock I've brought, the best group of owners."

Among Milligan's top horses is My Spanx, winner of the $100,000 La Senorita at a mile on turf last year at Retama Park, who is under consideration for a stakes at Gulfstream Park. Milligan said she is possible for the Grade 3, $150,000 Herecomesthebride for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf March 15.

Que Paso, the third-place finisher in the $100,000 Essex Handicap earlier this month at Oaklawn, is to make his next start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Handicap here March 7, Milligan said. Another top horse in the barn, Upstream, is a two-time winner at the meet and a long-term candidate for the $50,000 Premier for Texas-breds at Lone Star on April 9.

Milligan's stable is a nice mix of young horses and claiming horses, which has kept him active in many divisions at Oaklawn. Prior to launching his training career in 1993, he was an assistant to his father at Oaklawn and Louisiana Downs, and later to trainer Frank Brothers in Kentucky.

Ritchey looks at Mountain Valley

Trainer Tim Ritchey, who won the 2005 running of the Mountain Valley Stakes at Oaklawn with eventual champion Afleet Alex, said Everyday Heroes is being considered for a start in this year's renewal of the six-furlong race for 3-year-olds on Saturday.

"It's possible, but it's quick back," Ritchey said.

Everyday Heroes won his career debut in sharp fashion on Feb. 21, taking a six-furlong maiden special weight by more than four lengths. For the effort, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90. Everyday Heroes was a $400,000 yearling purchase. He is a son of Awesome Again and races for Cash Counters.

Several names are being tossed around for the Mountain Valley. Big Push, runner-up in the $60,000 Black Gold last out at Fair Grounds, is a probable for trainer Richie Scherer, according to Oaklawn stakes coordinator Craig Lytel. He also looks for Blushing Romeo, Citizen, Dance Caller, and N.Y. Wise Guy to start Saturday. Bertsgoldenmissile also is expected, while Flying Private is possible for the race, according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Lukas also has recent private purchase Hamazing Destiny nominated, but said the colt won't run in the Mountain Valley. He has not yet set plans for the horse, who won his debut for trainer Mac Robertson on Feb. 7, with a 94 Beyer. Hamazing Destiny won at six furlongs that day and could see two turns next, Lukas said.

"I'm going to fool around with him, and if he tells me that he'd like to try that, we'll have a heart to heart and we'll decide what we we're going to do," he said. "We're still getting acquainted."

Lukas also has Buzzin and Dreamin nominated to the Mountain Valley, but said he plans to keep him racing around two turns right now following his third-place finish to Old Fashioned in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest at a mile at Oaklawn on Feb. 16. Lukas said the horse is being considered for the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End at Turfway Park.

Another notable Mountain Valley nominee is Lyin' Heart, a stakes winner last year for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Rachel Alexandra to work Thursday

Rachel Alexandra, one of the nation's top 3-year-old fillies, is scheduled to work at her Oaklawn base Thursday, trainer Hal Wiggins said. The move will be her first since an eight-length romp in the $50,000 Martha Washington here Feb. 15. Rachel Alexandra is being pointed to the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 14.

* Silver Edition, who was a sharp allowance winner here Feb. 20, is to make his next start in the $50,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn on March 21, Lukas said. The colt put in a strong off-the-pace bid in the allowance, covering six furlongs in 1:10.32. For the effort, Silver Edition earned a 91 Beyer.

* Poltergeist, a sparkling allowance route winner opening weekend at Oaklawn who was a troubled seventh in the Southwest, is being considered for the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel here March 14, trainer Donnie Von Hemel said.