04/25/2006 11:00PM

Ready for Roses best in Ohio for 2005


Ready for Roses was named champion 3-year-old colt and horse of the year on Saturday, when the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners honored the leading statebred runners of 2005 at Thistledown.

Ready for Roses's two stakes wins last year came against older horses in the Governor's Buckeye Cup at Thistledown and the Best of Ohio Endurance at Beulah Park.

Ben's Reflection was awarded his third consecutive title as champion sprinter, and was also named the leading older male.

Dinner Choice and Lillians Choice were awarded the 2-year-old colt and filly championship, respectively, and Acts Like a King was named best Ohio-bred male. Dinner Choice was well beaten by Acts Like a King in the Hoover at River, but avenged that loss later in the Best of Ohio Juvenile at Beulah. Lillians Choice won two stakes.

Other winners honored were Flip Side, the 3-year-old filly who won the Tomboy Stakes and Queen City Oaks at River; Patti's Clown, the best Ohio-bred female, who captured the Ms. Southern Ohio at River; and Just Michel, the champion older female, who won 6 of 11 starts, including two stakes apiece at Thistledown and Beulah.

* The 7-year-old Indiana-bred gelding Indy Energy may not be a household name, but in winning a five-furlong starter allowance at River last Saturday, he became the first Thoroughbred in North America to reach the seven-win plateau this year. Indy Energy's six previous wins occurred at Turfway Park, which was also the site of his only loss this season, a third-place finish in a starter allowance on March 2.

Evangeline Downs

Guy Smith and Sylvester Carmouche Jr. were both injured in a nasty spill at Evangeline Downs last Saturday night, and each faces a lengthy recovery period. Carmouche will be out for a couple of months while his broken leg mends, while Smith will be out even longer while he recovers from a fractured vertebra in his neck, which fortunately did not produce any paralysis.

Someone who can certainly relate is Christina Gray. Gray went down in a multiple-horse spill at Delta Downs in December 2004, breaking her back. The injury required surgery and a long and, at times, trying recovery.

Gray has been back galloping horses in the mornings for a couple of weeks now and Wednesday night she was scheduled to make her long-awaited return to the saddle in a race. In the third race, Gray was named on the maiden Got to Go Tiger, who was making a comeback of his own, having been off since last July.

- Jeff Taylor

Fonner Park

Habaneros was made the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's $100,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes at Fonner Park by assistant racing secretary and handicapper Wayne Anderson.

Eight horses were entered on Wednesday morning for the 1 1/16-mile stakes, which is the showcase event of the meet.

Habaneros found himself bottled up in traffic entering the far turn when he prepped for the Bosselman in the Dowd Mile on April 8. He shook free and found his stride late but could not run down Tonight Rainbow. Cindy Noll-Murphy will again ride Habaneros from post 5.

The top four finishers from the Dowd return in the Bosselman with winner Tonight Rainbow in post 1, third-place finisher Stormy Business in post 8, and fourth-place finisher High Fleet in post 4.

* Spills last weekend took a heavy toll on the jockey colony as both Mike Luark and Preto Espindola were put out of action indefinitely.

Espindola went down in the first turn of last Saturday's first race. He suffered a separation in his collarbone and will be out four to six weeks.

Mike Luark was involved in a fall following the sixth race on Sunday. He was aboard Cutnstyle when the horse fell while pulling up and sent Luark to the ground. He reportedly was knocked unconscious and sustained a severe concussion. He could miss as many as four weeks.

Jill Kaenel aggravated an injury to her leg and had a pin become dislodged, which may result in surgery.

- Bill Hodtwalker

Retama Park

Turf is the theme of the Retama Park stakes schedule for Thoroughbreds, with 10 of the 15 races to be run on the grass. The stakes for the upcoming season, which begins Aug. 11, will be worth a cumulative $1 million.

The $100,000 El Joven Stakes for 2-year-olds and the $100,000 M2 Technology for 2-year-old fillies will both be run over one mile on turf Sept. 2. They are the richest open-company races on the calendar at Retama, which is located near San Antonio.

The first stakes of the meet will be the Retama Park Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-olds and upward at 1 1/16 miles on turf Aug. 12. The purse for the race, as well as for the Margarita BC for fillies and mares on turf Aug. 19, has been increased to $65,000. Last year, the races were each worth $50,000.

The $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame Stakes for Texas-breds at 1 1/16 miles on turf will again anchor the annual Texas Hall of Fame Night program Oct. 14. Six restricted stakes will be decided, and with cumulative purses of $470,000 the program will be the richest of the meet at Retama.

Retama opens its Quarter Horse meet on Friday. There will be a daytime post for the first time at the track, when the first race goes off at 1:30 p.m. Central on Sundays. Post time for Fridays and Saturdays during the meet will remain 6:45 p.m., with the exception of the Triple Crown dates, when first post is 5:30 p.m.

There are two Grade 1 races for Quarter Horses during the meet, the $50,000-added Retama Park Derby on June 17, and the $75,000-added Retama Park Futurity on June 18. The Retama meet continues through June 18.

- Mary Rampellini

Will Rogers Downs

George Taylor, a two-time winner of the Oklahoma Classics Day Classic, heads a starter allowance race Friday at Will Rogers Downs. He drew post 9 for the one-mile race, which will go as the eighth on an 11-race card. Nena Matz, who leads all riders at Will Rogers, has the mount on George Taylor.

Matz has won 34 races from 172 starters and her mounts through Tuesday have earned $308,905. Curtis Kimes and Alex Birzer are each tied for second in the standings with 31 wins this meet.

Martin Lozano is dominating the training ranks, with 22 wins from 65 starters and stable earnings of $157,050. The second-leading trainer through Tuesday is Zachary Armstrong, with 10 wins from 28 starters and earnings of $72,570.

Will Rogers will race through May 28.

- Mary Rampellini