09/21/2005 11:00PM

No shortage of action or stakes

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The Woodlands meet may be short, but it won't be short on racing. The Woodlands will open Saturday and run five days a week, with as many as 12 races a card, through the close of the season on Oct. 29.

During the 26-date meet there will be 20 stakes, with six scheduled for closing day, including the $100,000 Kansas Jackpot Futurity for Quarter Horses.

The busy racing schedule is nothing new to The Woodlands, which features separate horse racing and greyhound facilities on the same property in Kansas City, Kan.

"Everything is pretty much the same as it was last year," said Doug Schoepf, racing secretary at The Woodlands. "We'll run three Quarter Horse races a day, and between seven and nine Thoroughbred races a day."

Schoepf has an interesting cross-section of stables on the grounds to fill those races. Just as The Woodlands opens for its meet, he said, a handful of tracks in the region close meets, including Fairmount Park in Illinois, Arapahoe Park in Colorado, Prairie Meadows in Iowa, and Canterbury Park in Minnesota.

As a result, some horsemen from those circuits head to Kansas. Tim Gleason, who won last year's training title, is among the returning horsemen this season, as are Leroy Hellman, Kenneth Gleason, and Jim McCoy.

"The barn area will be full," said Schoepf.

Alex Birzer will return to defend his riding title against a jockey colony expected to include R.D. Williams, who won the title at Columbus in Nebraska, and Rafael Hernandez, who was the leading rider at Fairmount. Others riding at the track include Kelly Murray and Danush Sukie.

Purses for the meet will average $45,000 a day. The stakes schedule will get under way on Sunday, with two six-furlong races for 3-year-olds and up bred in Kansas: the Manhattan for fillies and mares, and the Sunflower, which drew Nick Missed, a blowout winner of last year's Kansas Thoroughbred Association Derby.

The opening card will feature 10 races, with four trials for the Grade 2, $98,000 Kansas Quarter Horse Futurity, and three trials for the Grade 3, $45,000 Kansas Quarter Horse Derby. The finales for both races will be held on Oct. 8.

Other stakes of note include the Woodlands Derby on Oct. 22 and the Woodlands Handicap on Oct. 29.

At a glance: Woodlands

RACING SCHEDULE: 26 days; Saturday through Oct. 29; racing Saturday through Wednesday.

POST TIME: Noon, Central

HIGHLIGHTS: Woodlands Derby, Oct. 22; and six stakes on Oct. 29, including the $100,000 Kansas Jackpot Futurity for Quarter Horses, and the Woodlands Handicap and Woodlands Juvenile.

ADMISSIONS: General, free

PARKING: General, free

SIMULCASTING: Daily

ADDRESS: 9700 Leavenworth Rd., Kansas City, Kan.

PHONE: (800) 695-RACE, or (913) 299-9797

INTERNET: www.woodlandskc.com