06/12/2002 12:00AM

Penn National track report


Three decades ago, Jerry Fishback was North America's champion steeplechase rider, capturing the title in 1971, 1973-75, and 1977-78. He made a rare appearance at Penn National Race Course on June 1 as the trainer of the 4-year-old filly Sandy Hook.

Fishback, who is headquartered in Camden, S.C., had been searching for the right spot to give Sandy Hook a chance to show what she could do on turf. His patience was rewarded when Sandy Hook, under a ground-saving ride from Luis Belmonte, rallied from far back to win the one-mile maiden race in 1:37.93. Despite having been well beaten in her two previous career tries over the dirt, at Tampa Bay Downs and Delaware Park, Sandy Hook paid $8.80 to win.

* The track will hold the Summer Handicapping Challenge on July 6. The field will be limited to the first 100 entrants who pay a $100 entry fee at the track between 6:30 and 8 p.m. this Saturday.

Players must make 10 individual $20 win bets on any combination of the July 6 races run at Penn National and Charles Town. The cash prizes are $5,000 for first, $2,500 for second, and $1,000 for third.