07/09/2002 11:00PM

River Downs track report

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A potential star is emerging from the River Downs jockey colony, a20-year-old apprentice named John McKee. Through Tuesday's card, McKee was tied for fifth in the standings with 41 wins, three of them coming on last Saturday's eight-race program.

A resident of Hamersville, Ohio, and a second-generation rider, McKee is a natural lightweight at 90 pounds. McKee's agent, Eddie Campbell, booked mounts for another star apprentice at River Downs, Steve Cauthen, in 1976.

* Jockey Casey Chavez escaped serious injury Saturday when his mount in the fifth race, Danzatore Flag, threw him into the next stall prior to the start of the race. Chavez was treated and released from a local hospital.

* Joanies Bella, winner of the Cincinnatian Stakes in her turf debut Sunday, will be heading back to dirt for her next start, the $100,000 Queen City Oaks on July 27. The 1 1/8-mile Oaks is the richest Ohio-bred stakes of the River Downs meet.