05/19/2004 12:00AM

River Downs: Sunseri up for award


Jockey J.J. Sunseri was nominated by riders in the River Downs colony last week for the first annual Michael Rowland Memorial Jockey Award.

Named in honor of the popular rider who died last winter in a racing accident at Turfway Park, the Rowland Memorial Award recipient will be chosen this fall from a group of nominees from tracks throughout the Midwest, including River Downs, Turfway Park, Thistledown, Beulah Park, and Mountaineer Park - tracks at which Rowland rode with distinction during his career.

Sunseri, 56, a native of Italy, came to the United States in 1963 and has been riding professionally for 28 years. Perry Ouzts, who was himself nominated for the award earlier this year at Turfway Park, presented Sunseri with his nomination.

* Ben's Reflection, the multiple stakes winning Ohio-bred, kept his perfect record at River Downs intact last Saturday with a convincing 3 3/4-length victory in a six-furlong allowance. Ben's Reflection, who earned a career-best 97 Beyer figure for his performance, is unbeaten at River Downs in four starts. He has won six of his nine lifetime starts by an average of over eight lengths.

Finishing nearly 10 lengths behind Ben's Reflection was Majestic Dinner, who was making his first start since October 2002. Majestic Dinner captured consecutive runnings of the Governor's Buckeye Cup at River Downs in 2001 and 2002.