03/06/2002 12:00AM

New journeyman Stokes leading rider at Beulah

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GROVE CITY, Ohio - Making the transition from an apprentice to a journeyman rider is often difficult, but Rex Stokes III is handling the switch quite nicely at Beulah Park this meet.

Stokes, who was the second leading apprentice in the nation last year in victories and who is now in his first meet as a journeyman, rode four winners at Beulah Tuesday, to gain a lead of 37-33 in victories over Jorge Guerra in the rider standings. Stokes teamed up with trainer Gary Johnson, who has ranked in the top 10 in victories nationally the past several years, to sweep the early double Tuesday with Harbor Wind in the first race and Fly Maggie in the second. The double returned $72.

William "Dougie" Cowans is the hottest trainer on the grounds. On Saturday he saddled two winners to move into a tie for second in the standings with Jim Tracy. Each has seven winners. Cowans has started only 23 horses at the meet for a better than 30 percent win percentage. Jake Radosevich leads the trainer standings, sending out nine winners from 64 starters.