05/23/2006 11:00PM

Repp suffers mainly lost opportunity in spill

Emerald Downs
Trainer Bill Tollett claimed a gem in Diamond Dollars for $12,500.

AUBURN, Wash. - Apprentice Kate Repp knows she was lucky to escape serious injury from the nasty-looking spill she took in Saturday's fourth race at Emerald Downs. Considering that she was unseated while racing on the lead, then executed two summersaults while the horses behind her parted like the Red Sea, she is thankful that she will be able to ride again this weekend.

Nevertheless, Repp couldn't help thinking about what might have been. Two of the mounts she was forced to give up on Saturday turned up as winners with substitute riders aboard. Two more of her scheduled mounts won on Sunday, including Diamond Dollars in the Federal Way Handicap. Assuming those four horses had won with Repp aboard, she would now be sitting atop the rider standings with 13 wins, 2 of them in stakes.

"I was just sick to my stomach on Sunday night," she said. "I hated missing out on those mounts, especially Diamond Dollars. I'm learning to live with it now, though.

I even made the best of a bad situation. I had my wisdom teeth pulled on Monday. I figured as long as I have to be in a healing mode, I might as well heal from everything at once."

Trainer Bill Tollett, who named Repp aboard Diamond Dollars for the Federal Way, sympathized with the rider's plight.

"I know she must be feeling pretty bad," said Tollett. "She is so competitive, it must be eating her up inside to lose those mounts. She reminds me of Vicky Baze when she was an apprentice. Vicky would do anything to win a race, and Katie is the same way."

The comparison is both flattering and apt. Baze, then known as Vicky Aragon, took Longacres by storm when she began riding there in the mid-1980's. With 9 wins from 59 mounts, including one in the Hastings Park Handicap aboard Kissntheboysgoodby, Repp is off to a similar start at Emerald Downs.

Repp, a 24-year-old native of Auburn, galloped here for a year and a half before launching her career at Fresno, Calif., in October of 2004. She then rode at the major northern California tracks, at several Eastern tracks, on the northern California fair circuit, at Zia Park and Sunland Park in New Mexico, and at Turf Paradise in Arizona before arriving here with a creditable record of 82 wins from 616 mounts.

"This is home for me, so I always wanted to ride here," she said.

"I was hopeful that I could do well, because the horsemen here will use girl riders. Jennifer Whitaker and Debbie Hoonan have had success here, so they sort of paved the way. Things have gone very well for me so far. It has been exciting."

Repp said she is especially encouraged that horsemen have been using her in stakes, in which her five-pound apprentice allowance does not apply.

"I'll be losing my bug in a couple of weeks, so I'm glad that horsemen have been willing to use me without the bug," she said. "It's a good sign."

'Diamond' outruns expectations

Tollett called Diamond Dollars, whom he claimed out of her second start at Sunland Park for just $12,500, a "diamond in the rough." If that was the case, he managed to polish her to a high gloss in short order. She defeated $25,000 maidens by seven lengths in her first start for Tollett here on April 8, covering the six furlongs in 1:08.20. That equaled the fastest six furlongs ever run here by a filly or mare. In her second start, she went 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.30 to win Sunday's Federal Way Handicap by 10 lengths under Gallyn Mitchell. That margin equaled the record for a filly or mare in a stakes race, which was set 11 years ago by Strawberry Morn in the first race ever run at Emerald, the U. S. Bank Stakes.

"It looks like we got really lucky with her," said Tollett. "I'm pretty careful with the horses I claim and I expected her to be a useful filly, but I certainly didn't expect her to turn out the way she has. She is a sure-enough runner."

Tollett said Diamond Dollars, a 3-year-old daughter of Stravinsky, will probably go next in the one-mile Irish Day Handicap June 25.

"I'll test her to see if I she can go around two turns, but at this point I think she will," he said. "I know her sire was a sprinter, but her female family is all stamina. I'm hopeful that she will handle at least a mile."

Tollett said that his latest claim arrived at his barn on Tuesday night. The horse is Keagan, a 3-year-old Washington-bred son of Basket Weave. Tollett claimed Keagan out of an $80,000 optional claiming race on the turf at Hollywood Park on May 17, when he finished fourth. Keagan earlier had won three stakes on the dirt in Phoenix, including the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby at 1 1/16 miles.

"He'll run in the Pepsi-Cola Handicap here on June 4," said Tollett. "Our plan is to run him in all the stakes here. We think he is a real nice horse."

Keagan, who was ranked third to Schoolin You and Fast Parade on last year's experimental free handicap for Washington-bred 2-year-olds, will race for his trainer's wife, Donna Tollett.

* Leslie Mawing will resume riding this weekend. Mawing rode here on opening day, winning aboard one of his five mounts, before suffering a hairline fracture of his ankle in a training accident on April 22.