06/30/2004 12:00AM

New rider at River takes jockey title


The Turf Club portion of the River Downs meet concluded June 26 with a new face atop the jockey standings. Dean Sarvis, a 36-year-old native of Baltimore competing at his first River Downs meet, won a record 84 races, surpassing the mark of 80 wins set by Steve Neff in 1987.

Perennial riding champion Perry Ouzts finished second with 67 winners, well ahead of Hector Rosario Jr., who had 29.

Joe Woodard won his second training title at the Cincinnati track, saddling 16 winners from 85 starters. Woodard, who tied for first during the Jockey Club portion of the 2003 meet, edged James Morgan and Luis Palacios, who had 14 and 12 winners.

"We won the second half of the meet last year, and the year before that we came up a winner short, so winning the title was something we kept in focus," said Woodard, who has 31 horses stabled at River Downs.

Most of those horses are owned by Billy Hays, a Louisville, Ky., car dealer whom Woodard has trained for privately the last eight years. All of Woodard's 16 winners during the Turf Club meet were Hays-owned horses.

Woodard says his goal for the Jockey Club meet, which began Sunday, is to maintain a win percentage between 25 and 30, up from the 19 percent clip for his starters during the Turf Club meet. Another goal is participation in the Cradle Stakes and Bassinet Stakes, the meet's top 2-year-old races, and their respective allowance preps in August.