03/07/2009 12:00AM

Shepherd jumps out with two wins

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STICKNEY, Ill. - The 17-year-old apprentice rider Dusty Shepherd won four races during all of 2008. Two races into the Hawthorne spring meet, and Shepherd already had gotten halfway to that total.

Shepherd dead-heated for first in Friday's meet-opening race, then won the second race outright. Not just that, but his agent, Jimmy Ernesto, has lined up plenty of business to keep Shepherd busy, at least during this softer early phase of the Chicago racing season.

"I've got a good agent, and I got here a month ago to start working," said Shepherd, who won his fifth career race Friday, thus moving from a seven-pound to a five-pound bug. Shepherd now has one full year to ride with the five-pound allowance.

Shepherd's father, Dave, was a rider, and his brother Justin has established himself in the Midwest and the Southwest. Dusty said he "grew up on the backstretch," and that becoming a rider was a completely natural move.

Injury restrained Shepherd's 2008 success. A horse collapsed on him in the stretch during a race at Lone Star Park, breaking seven of his vertebrae. After several months' recovery time, Shepherd wound up here at Hawthorne in November. Now, for the first time, he has a chance to do some good.

Mongoose Gold still in form

Mongoose Gold turned in one of the better races of her career when she won Jan. 10 the last week of the fall-winter meet, and that form carried through the winter break, as Mongoose Gold ($15.40) made a sustained stretch run to win the $50,000 Merry Colleen over a sloppy track Saturday at Hawthorne.

Trained by Tammy Domenosky for owners Alan and Beverly Kasdan, and ridden by Tanner Riggs, Mongoose Gold prevailed by a half-length over Paddy Wak Wakie. Nicks, part of an odds-on Christine Janks-trained entry, finished third. Winning time on the sloppy track was 1:12.09.

Mock pony race proves dangerous

Occasionally, a harness track will have a promotion wherein local "celebrities" will drive horses in a mock race, often accompanied in the sulky by an actual horseman. There is a reason one never hears about this kind of promotion at Thoroughbred tracks - and that reason was on full display on Friday at Hawthorne.

The track attempted to put on a horse race with local sports radio personalities aboard outrider ponies. Two people actually participated in the event - and one of them left the grounds in an ambulance. Harry Teinowitz, whose family campaigned the excellent horse Cryptoclearance years ago, went down hard on the far turn as the "race" came to an unfortunate conclusion.

Teinowitz, thankfully, was to be discharged from an area hospital on Saturday, having suffered no more than a concussion.

Dorris stocked with statebreds

Trainer Tom Dorris has plenty of Illinois-bred entry-level allowance horses in his stable - four of them, in fact, were entered in the two allowance races on Monday's card here. Dorris has two horses for race 5, Pickinupbits and Jake's Soldier, and two more for race 7, Oughta Be Mine and Will's Honey.

Will's Honey might be the most promising of the quartet. He raced just three times last year at 2, and finished his 2008 campaign in good form.