09/06/2001 11:00PM

Prather finally back on track

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When the racing world last paid much attention to her, Kris Prather was winning race after race during the dead of winter at Turfway Park.

Half a year later, Prather is in Florence, Ky., once again. Idled by knee injuries suffered in a starting-gate accident at Turfway March 17, and a shoulder injury incurred in Louisville in June, Prather only recently returned to full active duty, winning with 9 of 29 starters at Ellis Park.

Back at Turfway for the 22-day fall meet, Prather is painfully aware that outsiders might want to typecast her as a one-track jockey, someone who wins only in circumstances that are less competitive than top-drawer meets.

"I sure don't want to be categorized that way," Prather said.

Last winter, when she was en route to taking the 2001 lead atop the North American jockey colony with 110 wins, Prather, now 22, said a primary goal was to parlay her success to the spring meets at Keeneland and Churchill Downs. That objective remains the same, since the fall meets at Keeneland and Churchill are just ahead.

"I'm glad to be back riding, period," she said. "But at the same time, I kind of wish this had all happened so I could've come back at another meet, just because of what some people might be thinking."

Prather returned briefly at Churchill in June before being sidelined for a second time and her recent return at Ellis clearly was productive. But only now does she feel that clear sailing is ahead. The knees, she said, "feel great," mainly because "my legs are always strong," but her shoulder was slower to heal. "My upper body strength is what I'm always working on," she said.

Because of the customary extensions granted for injury, Prather will be allowed to ride with her five-pound apprentice allowance until January or February. She said she expects to return to Turfway in late November, after the Churchill meet ends, although Fair Grounds and Gulfstream are options.

"We'll think about that when it's time," she said. "Right now I'm just glad to be back riding, wherever it is."

- Prather rode just one winner during the first two nights of racing at Turfway and she may be hard-pressed to keep pace with veteran Jon Court, who won the Ellis title for the fourth straight year. Court rode two winners on the opening-night card Wednesday and three more Thursday.

Kentucky Cup maybes

Nominations for the Sept. 22 Kentucky Cup series were due Saturday. Officials are optimistic about getting any or all of the following for selected Cup races:

- $400,000 Kentucky Cup Classic: A P Valentine, Broken Vow, Dixie Dot Com, Fajardo, Guided Tour, Scorpion. One notable absence is Include.

- $200,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup: Spain, Saudi Poetry, Secret Status, Asher, Irving's Baby, Rose of Zollern, Royal Fair.

- $150,000 KC Sprint: City Zip, Orientate, Snow Ridge.

- $100,000 KC Juvenile: Ecstatic, the Bob Baffert colt who scratched from the Del Mar Futurity.

Kruytbosch to call Kentucky Downs

Luke Kruytbosch, the regular race-caller at Churchill Downs and Ellis Park, will call the seven-day meet at Kentucky Downs, the turf-only track located in Franklin, Ky. Kruytbosch replaces Churchill vice president John Asher, who called at Kentucky Downs the last several years.

Kentucky Downs runs Sept. 15- 24, highlighted by the $700,000 Kentucky Cup turf series on

Sept. 23.

- Tijiyr, winner of the Explosive Bid at Fair Grounds in March, is back in training after having undergone minor ankle surgery, said trainer Niall O'Callaghan. "I'm hoping to get him back racing by late October or early November," said O'Callaghan.

From Turfway to Laughlin

Turfway announced a promotion on Thursday that will send its 100 biggest bettors over the next two months on all-expenses paid trips to Harrah's casino in Laughlin, Nev.

The promotion will combine the track's year-old FasTrack rewards program with the deep pockets of one of the partners in Turfway, Harrah's Entertainment. The other two partners are the lottery giant Gtech and the Keeneland Association.

FasTrack, which allows members to redeem points based on wagering handle for handicapping materials, food, drinks, mutuel vouchers, and trips to Harrah's properties, was modeled after player-tracking programs already in use by Harrah's at their 25 casino properties. Since buying Turfway in 1999, Harrah's has tried to implement promotions based on its casino-management experience, with varying degrees of success.

Turfway will select the winners of the promotion based on the amount of money bet by members of its FasTrack program from Sept. 5 until Oct. 27. The 100 biggest bettors will be flown on a private jet to Laughlin for a three-night stay at the hotel and casino, from Nov. 28-Dec. 1.

Turfway opened its current meet on Sept. 5 and will close for live racing on Oct. 5, so the promotion will reward in part those players who use the track to bet simulcasts.

- additional reporting by Matt Hegarty