04/14/2010 12:00AM

Perennial leaders starting slow at meeting


Opportunity is knocking for somebody other than perennial leaders Chris Englehart and John Davila Jr. to grab a head start in the trainer and jockey standings at Finger Lakes.

Englehart, 54, captured his seventh consecutive Finger Lakes training title last year with 158 victories, breaking his own single-season record of 141 wins set in 2006.

Davila rode 168 winners to finish as the track's leading jockey for the eighth straight season. It also was his 10th Finger Lakes riding title overall, breaking a tie with Kevin Whitley.

Englehart and Davila will receive awards for their accomplishments Friday, but that will be one of the few glimpses fans will have of them on the first two days of Finger Lakes's 49th season of live racing as both local stars begin the meet slowly.

This weekend, Englehart will saddle just one horse, the 4-year-old filly Stunning Electra, in Friday's eighth-race feature, an allowance for fillies and mares who have never won two races. Stunning Electra, formerly trained by Steve Asmussen, will be making her first start since March 2009.

Davila has the mount on Stunning Electra but is scheduled to ride just one other horse on Friday's card and one more on Saturday.

All nine races on opening day and Saturday will be contested at 4 1/2 furlongs.

Finger Lakes will open with the same overnight purse structure as last season, averaging roughly $114,000 daily. The track will offer 17 stakes worth a collective $1.2 million, identical to 2009.

As usual, the highlights will be the $200,000 New York Breeders' Futurity for statebred 2-year-olds on Oct. 2 and the 38th running of the $150,000 New York Derby on July 17.

During the 163-day meet, live racing will initially be held Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays, and Tuesdays until May 13, when Thursdays will be added to the schedule. Sundays have been dropped from the live racing schedule.

One long-time Finger Lakes regular is changing jobs, and another is gone from the scene.

Former jockey David Rivera, who rode 1,235 winners during a 30-year career, has taken out a trainer's license.

Trainer Amy Feathers-Murray died last month at 45. She had a small stable for 10 years, which included Large Popcorn, a gift from her husband who purchased the gelding for $1,000 in 2006. Large Popcorn went on to earn $105,468.

In recognition of Feathers-Murray's support of the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program, a brick will be placed on the Purple Haze Path of the Purple Haze Adoption Center.