02/12/2002 12:00AM

Prather goes to Mountaineer

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Apprentice Kris Prather, an Eclipse Award finalist, has left Oaklawn Park to ride at Mountaineer Park in Chester, W. Va. She has a mount there Friday night, and will likely ride at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., on Saturday in a stakes, said her new agent, Roger Holbrook.

Prather was dominant at Turfway before moving to Oaklawn this year. She was never able to build the kind of momentum in Hot Springs that she enjoyed in Kentucky, partly because she arrived in Arkansas only shortly before the Oaklawn meet opened, making it difficult to break in with some local stables.

Her record at Oaklawn is one win in 27 starts with six seconds.

The move will benefit Prather, her former agent Steve Elzey said, because a number of Kentucky horsemen she has ridden for in the past also race at Mountaineer because of its slots-fueled purse structure. "I look for it to be an automatic home run for her," he said.

Elzey and Prather discussed the importance of not wasting her apprentice allowance, which ends June 2. "Every day with the bug is a valuable day," he said.

Holbrook also sees big things for Prather. "I think she'll go like gangbusters here," he said. "We get a lot of Kentucky ship-ins, and that will be a big plus for her."

Prather was traveling Tuesday and was not available for comment.