08/07/2003 12:00AM

Sand Ridge attempts Sprint repeat


ALTOONA, Iowa - Sand Ridge takes on six rivals when he defends his title in Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Meadows Sprint.

An 8-year-old son of Known Fact, Sand Ridge is a multiple stakes winner over this track. Although Sand Ridge has won only one of his eight starts this year, he is in good form, having finished on the board six times. He has been facing tougher rivals than he'll meet in Saturday's six-furlong sprint.

Ken Shino will ride Sand Ridge, trained by Don Von Hemel, who has a strong stretch kick that is responsible for 16 victories from 51 starts and $664,659 in earnings. Sand Ridge will carry 120 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Sprint.

But, the Sprint is far from a one-horse race. Classic Appeal is the highweight at 122 pounds. A 6-year-old son of Classic Account, Classic Appeal won two stakes this spring at Hawthorne. He has finished off the board in his three most recent starts, at Arlington Park. Trainer Steve Hazelton has named Kelly Murray to ride Classic Appeal.

Two other contenders are Bet on Joe and Country Warrior. Bet on Joe returned from a five-month layoff on July 23 to score an easy 4 3/4-length win against $50,000 claiming company at Arlington. Trained by Hugh Robertson, Bet on Joe has dangerous early speed, which jockey Glenn Corbett will likely put to good use.

Iowa-bred Country Warrior enters the Sprint in the best form of his career, having won three straight races since being claimed for $35,000 by owner Maggi Moss and trainer Dick Clark on June 10. Perry Compton has a return call aboard Country Warrior.

Thompson back in action

Jockey Terry Thompson, who captured his fourth straight Thoroughbred meet title here in late June, returns to action Friday night. Thompson and his agent, Kenny Washburn, went to Ellis Park following the Thoroughbred meet here and were off to a good start, but three weeks ago Thompson was involved in a spill when his mount clipped the heels of rival.

Thompson avoided major injury in the spill, but suffered a broken bone in his left hand and has not ridden since. Washburn said he anticipates booking Thompson on three to four mounts per day initially.

Thompson should have no trouble finding mounts as Cindy Noll, who leads the standings here by a 20-17 margin over both Glenn Corbett and R.D. Williams, will not ride the rest of this meet due to personal reasons.

Noll is expected to return to the saddle at the beginning of the Oaklawn meet this winter, according to her agent, Brian Assmann. In Noll's absence, Assmann who also books mounts for Alex Birzer, has picked up jockey Mike Allen.