05/25/2004 11:00PM

Racing resumes after press-box fire

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba - If all things happen in threes, then Assiniboia Downs should be in the clear for the remainder of the 2004 racing season.

Mid-May began with a spring storm that left behind six inches of snow, and that was followed by the death of local fan favorite Kalfaari. Then a fire destroyed the press box in the early morning hours of May 17.

Damage from the fire is estimated at $1.5 million. The blaze forced the cancellation of four live racing cards and 11 days of simulcast wagering.

Live racing resumes for the first time since the fire Friday with a 10-race card, with first post at 7 p.m. Simulcast wagering will also resume Friday.

Dark Rapids and Too Tall will each try to go 2 for 2 locally for trainer Valorie Lund in Friday's featured eighth race, a $16,000 allowance race for older mares at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Dark Rapids dueled with Beausox early in her Assiniboia Downs debut before turning back bids from Cathy's Star and Remiewaterbluz, winning by two lengths while posting a career-best 77 Beyer Speed Figure. Dark Rapids faces all three rivals again Friday and leading rider Travis Hightower retains the mount.

Too Tall went gate-to-wire in her Assiniboia Downs debut on May 9 to take an optional claimer. Tim Gardiner will ride Too Tall for the first time as Orlando Martinez, who was on board last time, has opted to stay with Cathy's Star.

Remiewaterbluz was second behind Dark Rapids last time out as the heavy favorite. Trained by Clayton Gray, Remiewaterbluz has won four of her six starts at five and 5 1/2 furlongs. Keveh Nicholls rides her once again.

Cathy's Star, third behind Dark Rapids and Remiewaterbluz, will break from post 2 for trainer Gordon Marsh.

Queen Nova makes her second start of the year after an even effort at Stampede Park on April 21. She starts from the rail under Ken Hendricks.

Beausox, fourth last time, will break from the outside with Jason Leacock on board.

The field rounds out with Ocean Effect, who finished a dull fifth at this level last time in her first start against older mares.