Updated on 09/15/2011 1:39PM

Prather returns Dec. 31 with a healed shoulder

P. Lang
Kris Prather, who has won 130 races this year in less than four months of riding, returns to the saddle on New Year's Eve at Turfway Park.

Kris Prather is going to celebrate New Year's Eve her way.

Prather, the apprentice rider who posted spectacular numbers last winter at Turfway Park before being injured, is scheduled to return to action at the Florence, Ky., track, on Dec. 31.

Prather has been sidelined since August to allow her surgically repaired shoulder to heal properly. The layoff was the second lengthy one of the year for Prather, who also was inactive for some 2 1/2 months after injuring her knees in a starting-gate accident at Turfway on March 17.

Agent Steve Elzey said Friday that Prather, who is in Montana with her parents, was recently cleared to begin riding again. "I already have calls for her on Dec. 31," said Elzey. "She's been getting on horses and using her Equicizer. She's just about ready."

Prather pulled her shoulder out of joint in a training incident in June. Although she continued to ride at Churchill Downs and Ellis Park, the pain got to be too much, and she ultimately underwent surgery in Jackson, Miss.

Until going home to Montana, Prather, 22, spent time in New Orleans with her close friend Donna Barton Brothers. Prather is scheduled to return Tuesday night to Kentucky and begin exercising horses Wednesday morning.

Prather was easily the most dominant figure at Turfway a year ago, sweeping the riding titles at the holiday and winter-spring meets. At the winter-spring meet, which began Jan. 1, she won a record 109 races, vaulting her to the top of the North American jockey standings. It took several weeks after she was injured before that total was surpassed.

In all, Prather won 130 races this year in less than four months of riding. Her win percentage was a lofty 26.

Because of extensions due to her injuries, Prather will continue to ride with her five-pound apprentice allowance for about the next five months.

Backward mare avoids injury

Disaster was averted Wednesday night in a bizarre incident in which the mare Dialing Delema somehow became wildly contorted and wound up facing backward in her starting-gate stall.

Dialing Delema, a 6-year-old mare trained by Bill Million, suddenly reared up and got hung up in the gate. "I thought she was going to tear herself to pieces," said Million. But with jockey Bill Troilo and the starting-gate crew reacting calmly, they somehow got her untangled and led her head first out of the back of the gate. She was scratched, of course, from the $7,500 claiming sprint, but Million said the mare escaped with nothing more than a few superficial cuts.

"I jogged her this morning," Million said Friday. "It really was incredible, especially since she's normally such a nice, relaxed mare. Bill said it was the worst case he can remember, so we were lucky to get out of it like we did."

Mackey winning with everything

No trainer has had a hotter hand at the holiday meet than Wayne Mackey. From six starts, Mackey has won four races, including the Wednesday feature with 41-1 Golden Rachael.

"Things have really fallen into place," said Mackey. "It seems like you'll go along two or three months and can't get anything to bounce your way, and then a streak like this happens."

Mackey, 43, is married to Catherine Perkins, in whose name the couple's horses competed until Mackey took out a license about four years ago. Mackey trains for a handful of prominent clients, including former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones, Bill Carl, and Ed Glasscock.

With 22 horses, Mackey, 43, trains one of the larger stables at the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington. He is optimistic that his horses will continue to run well through the winter at Turfway. "It looks like we've got quite a few horses to fit some spots," he said.

Kin to Monarchos an also-ran

The 2-year-old colt My Man Gus typifies this old maxim about bloodlines: "Mrs. Mays had nine boys, but only one Willie."

My Man Gus, owned by Louisville pawn shop owner Gus Goldsmith, finished eighth at 13-1 in the sixth race Wednesday night, never reaching contention. The colt is by Supremo out of Regal Band, which makes him a half-brother to 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, who is by Maria's Mon.

My Man Gus also finished eighth in his only previous start, a June maiden race at Churchill Downs.

o After Turfway goes dark Monday and Tuesday, racing will be conducted here for nine of the 11 ensuing days. Through Jan. 6, only Jan. 2 and 3 will be dark days, although the track will be open for full-card simulcasting both days. Afternoon racing will be conducted Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Dec. 31 marks the end of the holiday meet, with Jan. 1 beginning the long winter-spring meet.

o Afternoon training at Trackside, the Louisville training facility formerly known as the Sports Spectrum, is scheduled to begin soon, although the maintenance crew is waiting for colder weather. The practice long has been used to avoid frozen tracks during morning hours. Winter training hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Many of the top horses at the Turfway winter-spring meet will ship from Trackside.