06/28/2005 11:00PM

Polkey's career finally gets out of the gate

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Melissa Polkey, a Fort Erie regular as of last year, has had a start-and-stop career as a rider.

Polkey, a Mississippi native, was 18 when she launched her career as an apprentice in August 1989.

"There was always one thing or another stopping me from riding," she said. "I never rode a complete season. I didn't lose my bug until '93."

Polkey suffered numerous injuries along the way. Her back was broken twice, and she had fractures of the shoulder, collarbone, and an elbow. Besides all that, she gave birth in 1992, 1993, and 1997.

And Polkey never stayed anchored at any one spot. "I rode all the way from Louisiana, to Oklahoma, Maryland, Delaware, everywhere. A little bit here and a little bit there."

Polkey was blanked in four rides at the Fort in 2003. Last year, for the shortened season, she rode five winners in 98 starts.

This week, Polkey won the day's opening race on both Monday and Tuesday. The wins were her eighth and ninth of the meet and pushed her to eighth place in the jockey standings.

"This is the highest I have ever been in the standings," she said, "and the best start I've ever had."

Trainer John Dalton is among those who were impressed with Polkey's ride on Monday.

"She came along the rail to try and pass the leader," Dalton said. "But the horse came in on her and bumped her. She regrouped and drove on. She is not afraid to go through holes."

Star quarter-milers to hit the road

Fort Erie's two crack quarter-milers, Pembroke Hall and Thats the Problem, are among the 18 nominated for the $50,000 Rocket Man Stakes at Calder on July 9.

The two-furlong Rocket Man is one of the six stakes that make up the unique Summit of Speed program, which offers a total $1.75 million in purses. Pembroke Hall won last year's Rocket Man. He was saddled by Don MacRae.

Pembroke Hall was claimed on June 14 by the Against the Wind Stable of trainer Debbie Rombis. All the quarter-mile races at the Fort are run for $12,500 claimers.

It was Pembroke Hall's first start of the meet and he lost by a head to Thats the Problem, trained by Noel Randall.

"We'll probably ship on Monday," said Rombis. "And we'll also send Rundle with him. There's a five-furlong turf race there for $25,000 optional claimers."

Stronach sends six runners to Gonzalez

Nick Gonzalez, the Fort's leading trainer with 12 wins, just had some additional ammunition sent his way. Gonzalez received six runners from the Frank Stronach organization last week. One of them, Forbidden Kiss, won at first asking on Tuesday.

It was the 12th win at the meet for the Stronach Stable. The other 11 were all ship-ins from trainers Sean Smullen and Justin Nixon. Forbidden Kiss was only the 16th Stronach runner to go to the post at this meet.

Ready and Alluring works for Bison City

Ready and Alluring, who will be favored in Monday's $250,000 Bison City, worked four furlongs in 47.62 seconds at her Belmont Park home base on Wednesday.

"She galloped out five furlongs in a minute," said Randy Schulhofer, who trains Ready and Alluring for owner-breeder Bill Sorokolit. "She's doing great."

The Bison City, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, is the second leg in the Canadian triple tiara.

Ready and Alluring finished second in the series opener, the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks on June 12. The winner, Gold Strike, came back to finish third in last Sunday's Queen's Plate.

Javier Castellano rode Ready and Alluring at Woodbine, but Todd Kabel has picked up the mount for the Bison City.

- additional reporting by Bill Tallon