05/12/2012 1:50PM

Presque Isle Downs: Full fields as 100-day meet begins

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Presque Isle Downs begins its sixth season of racing Tuesday. The Erie, Pa., track will hold its customary 100-day meet.

Two new barns have been added to the backstretch and the benefits can already be seen, according to Debbie Howells, Presque Isle’s director of racing. The new barns increase the number of stalls from 500 to 596.

“We have 100 more horses on the grounds than we did this time last year,” Howells said. “People shipped in early this year and it has shown in the entries the first two days.”

Eighty-three horses were entered for each of the first two eight-race cards.

A total of 1,400 stall applications were submitted, according to stall man Corie Boyd.

“We could have filled the barn area a couple of times, but that is a good problem to have,” Boyd. said.

Among the 64 trainers stabled on the grounds are newcomers Bill Connelly, James Dodgen, Ron Puhl, and Ron Potts. They will join Jamie Ness, Joe Martin, Tim Hamm, Wayne Rice, and Mike Rodgers, some of the top trainers from last year. All will be trying to win their share of the slots-fueled purses at Presque Isle.

The highlight of the meet will be the Grade 2, $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters on Sept. 8. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint was won by Breeder’s Cup Fillies Sprint champ Musical Romance last season. Musical Romance won the Eclipse Award for top female sprinter in 2011.

Masters weekend begins with the $250,000 Presque Isle Mile, the second-richest race of the meet, on Sept. 7.

The $255,000 Speedball series will be run for fillies and mares that have run for $12,500 claiming or less in 2011-2012. The series begins with a 4 1/2-furlong sprint for $31,000 on May 29 and ends with a 6 1/2-furlong, $71,000 sprint Sept. 29. Each leg of the five-race series increases a half-furlong in distance and has a $10,000 jump in the purse.

Saturday post time has been changed back after a one-year experiment. Racing will begin at 5:25 p.m. Eastern Tuesday through Saturday.

The jockey colony will be much the same as last year when Huber Villa Gomez and Pablo Morales tied for the riding title with 97 wins each. Scott Spieth and Harry Vega were not far behind in a very competitive jockey colony, along with Ronnie Allen, Deshawn Parker, and Ozzie Pereria.