06/17/2008 12:00AM

Rivera keeps picking spots with keen eye


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Juan Rivera put an exclamation point on his high-percentage Lone Star Park meet last week with $44 winner Knights Last Cast. Thursday night, he hopes to keep his momentum rolling with In Your Eyes, who is the probable favorite in the third race.

Rivera has gone 6 for 22 with his starters at Lone Star. It is the best season he has had at the track since he saddled his first winner as a trainer in September 2004.

"Right now, we're kind of picking our spots and doing the best that we can," he said. "We're pleased with what we've seen so far. I've got to really attribute a lot of the success to my staff. Cesar Padron, he's my assistant and I give a lot of credit to him."

Rivera, a 44-year-old native of Alice, Texas, has a 10-horse stable. He is a third-generation horseman, and after serving in the Marines he went to work on the Southern California circuit under trainer Rod Kaufman. Rivera also spent time working with noted Texas horsewoman Betty Abbey, whose nephew, Sam Abbey, is a former racing secretary at Delaware Park and Fair Grounds. Rivera's clients include Milton Nelson, who races as Nelco Farms.

"He's the one that really gave me the opportunity to get in there with a lot of younger horses," said Rivera. "He and I have worked very closely; this has been a very successful meet for him, too. Most of my wins have been for Nelco."

Rivera also helps Nelson with his farm operations. Following the Lone Star meet, some the horses Nelco ran here will be sent to smaller tracks in Canada. Then, younger horses for Nelco will cycle into Rivera's stable.

"That's that kind of the program we've used the last couple of years to kind of turn over our inventory," said Rivera.

Andanight, a Nelco homebred who gave Rivera his first stakes win back in 2006, has been on vacation and is due back in training later this summer, said Rivera.

Dixie Dot Com joins Hall of Fame

Lone Star has announced that Dixie Dot Com, Clarence and Dorothy Scharbauer, and Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt will be inducted into its Hall of Fame during the Stars of Texas Day program of stakes here July 12. They make up the second class to be inducted into the Hall.

Dixie Dot Com swept Lone Star's two richest dirt races in 2001, the Grade 3 Texas Mile and the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap. He has been the only horse to do so since the track opened in 1997.

Clarence Scharbauer and his late wife, Dorothy, have a significant legacy. Dorothy and daughter Pam raced Alysheba, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1987 and the Horse of the Year in 1988. Dorothy's father also won the Kentucky Derby in 1959, with Tomy Lee.

Clarence Scharbauer owns Valor Farm in Pilot Point, Texas, and among the horses he has in training are Gold Coyote, the horse of the meet last year at Lone Star who won the $50,000 Carter McGregor Jr. Memorial here last Saturday.

The Heiligbrodts began racing Thoroughbreds in 1988, and they have owned or co-owned more than 80 stakes winners, 35 of whom have won graded stakes. The couple has had a particular impact on the 2-year-old stakes program at Lone Star, winning 11 juvenile stakes here from 1999 through 2007.

The inductees will be enshrined with raised lettering on the wall of the grandstand facing the paddock, where the names of the inaugural class are placed above each saddling stall.

Scrappy Roo to miss Claiming Crown

Scrappy Roo, who was pulled up during a $20,000 turf starter handicap here on Saturday, will not make the Claiming Crown, according to his trainer, John Locke. The horse had been a candidate for the $100,000 Claiming Crown Emerald at Canterbury on Aug. 2.

Locke declined to specify the injury Scrappy Roo sustained when he was pulled up midway on the final turn of the 1 1/8-mile race, but he looks for him to return to competition later this year.

"We're going to give him some time off," he said. "We hope that he can come back this fall."

Scrappy Roo won five straight races last meet at Sam Houston, rising up from the claiming ranks to capture the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf in April.

Hello From Heaven may get good trip

Hello From Heaven might get a nice tracking trip off U Can Bank On It in the featured eighth, a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up bred in Texas. Hello from Heaven will break from post 3 in the one-mile race, under Richard Eramia.

"He usually comes from off of it just a little bit," said Locke.

* Apprentice Dusty Shepherd won his first career race last Friday night aboard Rocka My Baby ($8.20).