07/01/2003 11:00PM

Mixed meet begins with Oaks


ALTOONA, Iowa - Prairie Meadows's 48-day mixed meet begins Friday and will feature a beefed up stakes schedule and a new racing secretary.

The mixed-meet stakes schedule received a boost when the Iowa Festival of Racing, which previously had been conducted over several consecutive days, was disbanded this year. The stakes races that made up the Festival were split up between the final two weekends of the Thoroughbred meet, which ended Saturday, and the first two weekends of the mixed meet.

The new mixed-meet stakes include Friday night's $125,000 Iowa Oaks, as well as the track's two showcase events, the $250,000 Iowa Derby and the Grade 3 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Dan Doocy begins his first meet as the year-round racing secretary at Prairie Meadows. Over the past several years the track has had different racing secretaries for the Thoroughbred and mixed meets. Doocy broke in at Prairie Meadows during the Thoroughbred meet, serving as assistant racing secretary to former Thoroughbred secretary Pat Pope.

Jockey Glenn Corbett will be seeking his fifth straight mixed-meet riding title. Last year Corbett shared the crown with Cindy Noll, who also figures to be a strong factor this year. Terry Thompson, who just won his fourth straight Thoroughbred meet title, is expected to ride here for the entire mixed meet for the first time, and that should make repeating much tougher for Corbett.

Dick Clark, Prairie Meadows's all-time leading trainer, should prove tough to beat as he seeks his third straight mixed-meet title.

Racing will be conducted on Friday and Saturday with a 6:45 p.m. Central first post, and on Monday and Tuesday afternoons with a 4 p.m. first post. Racing will also be held on the first Sunday of the meet as well as each Sunday in August, with a 5:15 p.m. first post. There will be six or seven Thoroughbred races run each day followed by four Quarter Horse races.

Graded stakes winners Ruby's Reception and Golden Marlin square off in Friday's Iowa Oaks at 1 1/16 miles.

Ruby's Reception finished third at 2-5 in the one-mile Panthers Stakes here June 7 behind Wildwood Royal, who also starts in the Oaks. In her prior start, Ruby's Reception had won the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn for trainer Larry Jones.

Ruby's Reception got sick following her win in the Fantasy and Jones said she may not have been at her best in the Panthers. With that race under her belt, the late-running of daughter of Rubiano should run well Friday. Thompson has a return call in the Oaks, and Ruby's Reception will carry co-high weight of 121 pounds, along with Golden Marlin, under the allowance conditions of the Oaks.

Trainer Greg Foley ships Golden Marlin in from Kentucky. The daughter of Marlin has captured stakes races the last two times she has run on the dirt, most recently winning the Grade 3 Dogwood at Churchill May 17. She led throughout the race to win by a length under rider Shane Sellers. In her most recent start, Golden Marlin finished sixth in the Regret Stakes over Churchill's turf course.

The return to dirt figures to make Golden Marlin a major factor in the Oaks. Sellers will be in from Kentucky for the mount.

Wildwood Royal, who upset Ruby's Reception at 9-1 in the Panthers, goes for her fourth straight win Friday. She figures to be a pace factor - at the very least - under jockey Danush Sukie.