01/24/2004 12:00AM

Pro Prado nips favorite at wire


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Pro Prado caught 3-5 favorite Wildcat Shoes at the wire to win the $50,000 Mountain Valley Stakes before a crowd of 25,780 at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. With the win, trainer Bob Holthus and jockey John McKee swept the two opening-weekend stakes at Oaklawn.

On Friday, they teamed to win the $50,000 Dixie Belle for 3-year-old fillies with Saltwater Runner.

Wildcat Shoes was alone on the lead in the six-furlong race and set fractions of 22.10 seconds for the opening quarter and 46.60 for the half-mile. Pro Prado settled in third early, advanced on the turn, and rallied strongly through the stretch for a neck win. It was another seven lengths back in third to Hawkish.

Pro Prado covered the distance in 1:11.93 over a sloppy track. He earned $30,000 for the win, his third from four career starts. Pro Prado, who races for his breeder, Mrs. James Winn, has now earned $83,784.

* Jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. suffered chest trauma and a possible broken rib in a spill in the fifth race Saturday at Oaklawn. Roman Chapa and Luis Quinonez, who were also unseated from their mounts in the race, escaped serious injury.

Chapa's mount, Senor Gran Day, lost his action and fell going into the first turn, throwing his rider to the ground. A chain reaction occurred, and Marquez, on Treat, and Quinonez, on Kansun, were unseated from their mounts. All three horses crossed the wire and did not appear to sustain major injuries.