10/04/2006 11:00PM

Pair of Oaks winners to face off


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky Oaks winners have met on the racetrack in the past, but certainly not all that often. The last time it happened was nearly seven years ago, and what an anticlimax it was: Keeper Hill was fourth and Silverbulletday was sixth in the 1999 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Gulfstream Park.

The next meeting between Oaks winners might also be something of a dud, at least if Happy Ticket or Spun Sugar has her say. They look like the favorites for the 51st running of the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes on Sunday at Keeneland, where Summerly, the 2005 Oaks winner, and Lemons Forever, the 2006 Oaks winner, will be among the field of nine fillies and mares.

Although neither is promising a down-to-the-wire barn-burner between their Oaks winners, the respective trainers are upbeat about their chances Sunday. Scott Blasi, trainer of Summerly, said he is hopeful his filly is ready to hit peak form making her third start since returning from a year-plus layoff, while Dallas Stewart, trainer of Lemons Forever, said his filly has retained competitive form despite not having won in three starts since her 47-1 upset of the May 5 Oaks.

"She's run against Pine Island and probably the best fillies we could find," said Stewart, who co-owns Lemons Forever with Horton Stable, a longtime client. "I'm very proud of her as an owner and trainer. She's definitely a quality filly, and besides, she gave me one of my greatest moments in the horse business."

From the rail out, this is the complete lineup for the $500,000 Spinster, which is run at 1 1/8 miles and was drawn Thursday as the eighth of nine Sunday races: Happy Ticket, Island Escape, Promenade Girl, Spun Sugar, Summerly, Asi Siempre, Sharp Lisa, Soul Search, and Lemons Forever.

Busy time for Gomez

Garrett Gomez, the leader among North American jockeys in earnings this year, was scheduled to be here for five of the first seven racing days. Gomez was named on five mounts Friday and seven on Saturday, and after riding Happy Ticket in the Spinster, he will return to New York before coming back to ride again at Keeneland next Friday and Saturday.

Among other mounts, Gomez will ride High Finance in the Perryville Stakes next Friday, and then Magnificent Song in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup and My Typhoon in the First Lady next Saturday.

Gomez, who rode regularly in Kentucky for parts of 1993 and 1994, had mount earnings of more than $15.8 million for 2006 going into the Friday opener.

New fare: Conditioned claimers

Keeneland plans to run several conditioned-claiming races this fall, the first time the track has done so. Those races are standard fare for lesser tracks, and while Keeneland long has avoided them, the track's racing secretary, Ben Huffman, thought it best finally to start offering a few per meet.

"Rarely will any horse eligible for conditions run in an open claiming race," said Huffman. "There are just too many better spots when you can stay in your condition. Trainers have been begging to have these races here for years. We'd end up losing those horses to Hoosier Park or somewhere else, so we went ahead and put them in the condition book for the first time. This is a kind of experiment that gives horsemen another option."

The first conditioned claimer was an "extra" for Friday and was not used, but three more are in the book for Oct. 12, 18, and 22.