05/10/2006 11:00PM

Oaks win high point for Guidry

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Rick Schmitt/CDI
Mark Guidry, aboard Lemons Forever, has his sights set on 5,000 wins.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When a jockey has accumulated nearly 5,000 victories in a career spanning four decades, some of them are bound to be memorable.

Few, however, will stick with Mark Guidry as long as his Kentucky Oaks triumph aboard Lemons Forever. In patented Guidry style, Lemons Forever rallied from last in a field of 14 to capture the May 5 Oaks as the longest-priced winner in 132 runnings of the Churchill Downs filly classic.

"I basically took my time, got her into the bit, and she started going real nice for me down the backside," said Guidry. "Then she really started getting to them, and once I angled her out, she really accelerated, really responded. It was a great feeling."

For Guidry, 46, the Oaks win represents the pinnacle of a career that began in his native Louisiana. Throughout the 1990's, he was a perennial leading rider on the Chicago circuit, and then he made the Kentucky circuit his primary focus beginning in 2000, although in December 2004 he left for several months to ride in Southern California.

California was the site of Guidry's richest career victory, the 2005 Santa Anita Derby on Buzzards Bay, and most prestigious career honor, the 2006 George Woolf Memorial Award. He said that until he left Kentucky to try California, "My career didn't have any direction at that particular point. Since then, my career definitely has gone up a notch."

After winning the second race Thursday at Churchill, Guidry had 4,867 wins, meaning he figures to hit the coveted 5,000-win mark sometime next year. "I made that my goal a while back, to hit 5,000, then reevaluate my career," he said. "How long will I keep riding? I don't know. But right now, I'm feeling good, and I also believe I'm riding well. That's something to think about down the road."

Guidry said friends from all across the country were eager to talk to him after the Oaks. "I had 42 missed calls on my cell phone after the race," he said. "That's one of the great things about winning a race like the Oaks - it reminds you about all the friends you've made over the years in this game."

Bohannan back with old client

After trainer Tom Bohannan had his photo taken in the Churchill winner's circle following the fourth race Wednesday, he smiled and said: "I needed that - I haven't won in eight years!"

Indeed, an eight-year drought would be scandalous for a trainer - but Bohannan has an alibi. He left racing in 1998 to attend to personal matters, then eventually got into a golf-course construction business with a brother. About a year and a half ago, that business arrangement underwent a substantial shakeup.

"I hadn't been doing much of anything until one day last winter when I got a phone call while I was on a spearfish boat in Florida," said Bohannan.

The person calling was John Ed Anthony, the Arkansas lumber magnate for whom Bohannan trained back-to-back Preakness winners, Pine Bluff (1992) and Prairie Bayou (1993). Anthony wanted to know if Bohannan wanted to get back into racing as his private trainer.

"The timing couldn't have been any better," said Bohannan. "I jumped at the chance."

The first starter for Bohannan and Anthony's Shortleaf Stable, Sea of Trees, won a maiden race Wednesday, and in the coming months Bohannon and Anthony will try to improve on that promising re-start as the stable rebuilds at the nearby Trackside training center. Bohannan, 50, said he has three older horses, including Sea of Trees, and soon will have seven 2-year-olds.

"It feels great to be back," he said, "especially in the winner's circle."