06/19/2003 11:00PM

For Ruis, first win worth the effort


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Mick Ruis, the 16-year-old apprentice jockey, was ready to celebrate the occasion of his first win before the finish line of Thursday's second race at Hollywood Park.

"At the quarter pole, I thought I was home," he said. "I could feel it under me."

Riding Aetha in a $8,000 claiming race for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, Ruis knew he had to restrain his enthusiasm, at least for a few moments. On June 1, he seemed on his way to his first win when he was caught at the finish of a maiden claimer, losing by a head.

But Aetha was different and Ruis knew it. Ruis had the filly a length in front at the eighth pole, and didn't sense a challenge.

"I thought, I'll just go on with it," he recalled. "I waited to make a move. I didn't want to move too early. Finally, I saw Patrick Valenzuela came up, and I thought, 'Oh, not this again.' I heard the announcer say it's going to be a close one. I thought, 'No it's not.'"

Ruis held on to win by a half-length, scoring with the 23rd mount of his career. After surviving the traditional jockeys' room initiation bestowed upon first-time winners, congratulations literally arrived from around the world.

Ruis's parents, grandparents, and an aunt were on hand for the race. Gary Stevens called from England where he is riding this week at Royal Ascot.

Winning a race at Hollywood Park seemed remote last summer when Ruis began exercising horses at Special T Thoroughbreds in Temecula. At the time, Ruis was approaching his sophomore year in high school in Poway in northern San Diego county. He was as interested in his spot in the 105-pound division on the high school wrestling team as he was about becoming a jockey.

"I only started last July," he said. "That was the first time I got on a horse. I was galloping horses. Three weeks later, I worked my first horse. They said I was a quick learner."

Ruis combined exercising Thoroughbreds with school until this spring.

In April, he began working horses at Santa Anita, and moved in with Stevens to be closer to the racing scene. He began his career at the current Hollywood Park meet.

Ruis has averaged less than a mount a day. He had two mounts Friday evening and one Saturday but is not booked to ride Sunday.

Ruis has an advantage of being the circuit's only apprentice to have ridden here recently. M.C. Baze rode his first winner here in May, but has since left for Monmouth Park. Another apprentice, Salvador Iniguez, is winless with two mounts.

Ruis wants to stay in Southern California. Since he began riding, he has felt his confidence grow.

"Deep down you don't know if you can do it. I was just going with the flow," he said. "I guess all the hard work paid off."

Storming Home to U.N. Handicap?

Storming Home, winner of two major stakes races for turf males at Hollywood Park, is one of two Southern California-based horses being considered for the $750,000 United Nations Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf at Monmouth Park July 5.

Storming Home is trained by Neil Drysdale. A 5-year-old, Storming Home won the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap May 10 and the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap June 14.

The Tin Man is also a candidate for the U.N. Trained by Richard Mandella, The Tin Man finished seventh in the Murray in his first start since winning the San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

Mandella disregarded the loss in the Murray.

"He doesn't happen to like the Hollywood Park turf course," Mandella said.

Mandella said that Johar, winner of three consecutive stakes races, has resumed training at Santa Anita after being sidelined by a shoulder injury in January. A 4-year-old, Johar may start by the end of the Del Mar meet in early September, Mandella said.

Johar won the Oak Tree and Hollywood derbies last year and the San Marcos Stakes against older horses in January.

Double disqualification Thursday

The fourth race on Thursday marked a rare double disqualification. It involved the original second- and third-place finishers, Siracoque and Natural Treasure.

The trouble occurred in the stretch of a turf race at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-old claiming fillies. Natural Treasure, ridden by Valenzuela, bumped Myofficewice in early stretch. A few strides later, Siracoque, ridden by Felipe Martinez, drifted out, causing Natural Treasure and Flyingdownbaylaurel to be steadied.

The stewards disqualified 55-1 Siracoque from second to sixth, placing her behind Flyingdownbaylaurel. Natural Treasure was disqualified from third and placed fourth.

As a result of the disqualifications, Glorious Dragon, who finished fourth, was placed second, and Myofficewife, who finished fifth, was moved up to third.

Segovia, the winner and 8-5 favorite, raced wide on the turn and was not involved in any of the inquiries.

The stewards were expected to meet with Martinez on Friday and Valenzuela on Saturday regarding possible sanctions.

September Secret retired

September Secret, the winner of the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes in 2002 and three other races, has been retired because of persistent injuries, owner-trainer Mike Machowsky said.

The 4-year-old September Secret made her final start in the Genuine Risk Handicap at Belmont Park May 11. She finished fourth.

"She didn't pull up too good," Machowsky said. "She's always had trouble with her knees."

September Secret was bred to Touch Gold in mid-May, Machowsky said.

Smith takes off mounts

Jockey Mike Smith took off his final three mounts on Thursday's program after being unseated from Extra at the start of the third race.

Extra stumbled badly, sending Smith over his head. Smith fell in front of Extra and appeared to be kicked when the colt attempted to run with the field.

Smith was helped off the racetrack by ambulance personnel, but later walked back to the jockeys' room on his own.

He was not seriously injured and traveled to Lone Star Park on Friday for the All-Star Jockey Championship.

* Congaree, the multiple stakes winner who finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap and fifth in the Met Mile earlier this year, breezed a half-mile in 48.80 seconds at Santa Anita Friday. He is a candidate for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 13.