06/23/2002 11:00PM

Raging Fever makes big statement


ELMONT, N.Y. - As a 2-year-old in the 2000 season, Raging Fever won her first five starts for the stable of owner-breeder Edward P. Evans, including the Grade 1 Matron and the Grade 1 Frizette. She wasn't effective at Churchill Downs, however, and her single loss that year, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, cost her an Eclipse Award, to the disappointment of her people.

There was more disappointment when she turned 3. She had been slow leaving the gate in her first two starts and it was discovered she had a fracture behind, near the stifle. That's a rare injury, small consolation for missing most of the campaign.

Since her return to competition last December, Raging Fever has been outstanding. She's won 5 of 7 starts with 2 seconds, and she made a powerful statement regarding the championship of her division on Saturday with her triumph in the Grade 1, $300,000 Ogden Phipps, a race honoring the memory of the great sportsman and breeder.

It wasn't only the fact she won, but how she won that attracted attention. In her previous appearance, the Shuvee Mile, Raging Fever got caught up in a speed duel with Victory Ride. After she blistered a half-mile in 45.60 seconds, she had little left and was unable to hold off the driving Shiny Band. In the Ogden Phipps, John Velazquez, who rode four winners on the card, eased her off the pace. They went the first half-mile in 46.20, and Raging Fever, who took command near the quarter-pole, repulsed all challenges.

Victory in the Ogden Phipps brings Racing Fever's career earnings to $1,176,365, and the Evans horses trained by Mark Hennig have earned about $3 million during the first half of the year. Hennig, who has a high regard for the filly, plans to freshen her and point for the $250,000 Ballerina over seven furlongs at Saratoga on Aug. 25.

In the interim, Hennig will concentrate on a sizeable and promising group of 2-year-olds, the produce of the impressive Evans breeding operation. Hennig mentions a full brother to Raging Fever as a talented youngster whose debut is about a month away.

Lone Star shines bright

Few promotions at American racetracks have the vitality or the appeal of the All-Star Jockey Championship, as presented last weekend at Lone Star Park. From time to time, other tracks throughout the country have hosted jockey championships, but none has done it as successfully.

The reaction of the crowd of almost 15,000 to the competitive flavor of the all star event was gratifying. The Lone Star people had an advantage in the person of Chris McCarron, who retired Sunday. The challenge acted like a tonic for McCarron, who came away with individual honors after a memorable performance that earned him a thunderous ovation.

The All-Star Jockey Championship, like all scheduled events at Lone Star, benefits from extensive planning by a bright staff assembled by president and general manager Corey Johnsen. They will be faced with their most demanding assignment when they host the Breeders' Cup in 2004, but their preparation should make them equal to the occasion. The Lone Star management proposes more than $5 million in permanent improvements in connection with the Breeders' Cup plus another couple of millions in temporary improvements. These improvements will be in place for Lone Star's Thoroughbred meeting in the spring of 2004, so that the staff will be familiar with the changes for the Breeders' Cup meeting that fall.