05/16/2007 12:00AM

Moss finds herself back atop owner standings


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A little more than five months after edging Louis O'Brien as the leading owner in North America by wins in 2006, Maggi Moss and O'Brien seem poised for another ownership duel. Through Tuesday, they were co-leading owners in North America this year with 64 victories apiece.

Yet it is a battle Moss does not want to try to win again. She said the experience last year of competing to become the leading owner in North America was grueling, and as a horse lover she had reservations about chasing a record that was not about the horses, but only her personal goal.

If she can win the Churchill owners' title this spring by simply running her horses in the right spots, that would be a different matter.

"That would be way cool," she said by telephone from her Des Moines, Iowa, home.

Things look good for her at this early stage of the meet, which runs until July 8. She had six winners from 12 starters entering Wednesday's card at Churchill.

When Moss speaks about racing, one does not get the impression that she is a courtroom attorney, which has been her day job. Perhaps that is because law has lately become a thing of the past for her.

She look a leave of absence last year from her law firm to chase her goal of being North America's winningest owner, and then chose not to rejoin her legal practice this year so she could continue to concentrate on managing her stable of 65 to 70 horses.

"What used to be a passion for the law has become a passion for the horses," she said.

She said she spends six to seven hours a day focusing on the racehorses she owns, which includes time spent studying past performances and race replays to determine which horses could make rewarding claims.

Her already lofty win tally this meet could grow further Friday. My Girl Elizabeth is a contender in the third race for Moss, and Book Bishop - whom she owns in partnership with Len Friedman of the Ragozin Sheets - is the probable favorite in race 6.

Moss, 51, an active Thoroughbred owner for nine years and a graduate of the University of Kentucky, is quick to credit her trainers for her success. They include Tom Amoss, Steve Asmussen, and David Banks in Kentucky.

With assistance from them, as well as her other trainers across the country, Moss said she made a profit with her stable last year. Her horses grossed more than $3.95 million in earnings, and her 211 victories from 756 starts translated to a 28 percent win rate.

This year, her horses have won 64 of 219 starts, or 29 percent, and her stable's earnings of more than $1.48omillion rank second in North America.

But those numbers mean little, she said, if they are not accomplished the right way. She believes a larger emphasis should be placed on the welfare of the horses that compete.

"That's what I want to do with most of my time now," she said. "I'd like to see more horses back at retirement centers."

Golden Hare wins nine of last 10

When Golden Hare raced Aug. 22 at Remington Park in a $3,500 claiming race following a 14-month layoff, he was mired in a slump. He had not won since November 2002, a stretch of 20 races.

Now in a different stable, he is making up for his past struggles. On Wednesday, he won his ninth race in 10 starts since he was claimed that August day, scoring a 1 3/4-length victory in a starter allowance in raceo2 at Churchill Downs under Robby Albarado. He is trained by Asmussen and owned by Asmussen's assistant, Scott Blasi.

Asked what made him an appealing claim last summer, Asmussen noted that the gelding ran fourth in the Grade 1 Malibu in 2002. The $3,500 claiming price was right, too.

"I've bought ponies for more than that," he said.

Smokeyjonessutton heads allowance

Smokeyjonessutton heads Friday's featured ninth race at Churchill Downs, a second-level $52,500 allowance at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.

A graded-placed 4-year-old colt, he turned in a dull effort in finishing sixth over a sloppy racetrack on Kentucky Oaks Day in the Grade 3 Alysheba Stakes. Prior to that defeat, he ran a close sixth behind Lawyer Ron in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap and third behind Master Command in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap.

Julien Leparoux rides Smokeyjonessutton, who is owned by Chrysalis Stables and trained by Dallas Stewart.

The opposition is headed by Cradle Stakes winner Passport, along with Shift in Power and High Blues, who ran second and third, respectively, in a comparable allowance April 21 at Keeneland.