09/28/2009 11:00PM

Simington manages to outdo himself


Jockey Don Simington long ago locked up the Louisiana Downs riding title and has maintained a double-digit advantage in the standings for a good portion of the meet that closes Sunday. But last week he hit a significant milestone on his road to his second straight title.

"Our goal coming in is to do as well as we can and last week we surpassed what we did here last year," Simington said of reaching 102 wins, his total as the meet's leading rider in 2008. "To be able to surpass what we did last year has made it a great meet."

So have a pair of five-win days and a score aboard Takin' the Bullet in the $150,000 A.L. "Red" Erwin Stakes on Sept. 5. They are part of the meet highlight reel for Simington, who has won 106 races to date and leads all riders in mount earnings with $1.7 million. Francisco Torres is a clear second in the standings, with 79 wins through Tuesday.

For Simington, a couple of different factors drove his dominant meet in 2009.

"It was the quality of horses we got to ride," he said. "And we rode for a bunch of different people. We also picked up some new clients."

Among them was trainer Allen Milligan, who brought a division of horses to Louisiana Downs this meet and ranked fifth in the standings through Tuesday.

"He's a class act," Milligan said of Simington. "He rides everything to the wire, whether 50-1 or 9-5, and he gets more mad than I do whenever we get beat. He's very competitive."

Simington, 46, said Ronald Ardoin, a former jockey who has been his agent for the past three years, has played a key role in his title bid at Louisiana Downs.

"Working with Ronald has made my job easier," Simington said.

From here, he and Ardoin will head to the Delta Downs meet that opens Oct. 14.

"We're going to try to see if we can't keep on where we left off here," said Ardoin.

$55,000 pair top first session

A pair of yearlings sold for $55,000 each to top the first session of the fall auction of the Breeders Sales Company of Louisiana in West Monroe on Monday.

Tensas Idea, a full sister to multiple stakes winner Tensas Yucatan, brought $55,000 from Roger G. Smith. She was consigned by Elysian Bloodstock. Tensas Yucatan to date has earned $436,325. Both fillies are by Ide and both were bred in Louisiana.

The other horse to bring $55,000 was Main Mann Lee, a colt by Kafwain and a half-brother to stakes winner Half Mine and the Grade 2-placed First Lieutenant. Triple R Stable purchased the Louisiana-bred from agent Clear Creek Stud.

In all, 128 yearlings sold Monday for receipts of $1,054,500. There were 69 horses that did not sell. The average Monday was $8,238.

Fui has problems in comeback

Fui, who was pulled up in her first start in seven years in the fifth race at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20, was found to have an entrapped epiglottis after an endoscopic exam, said her trainer, Eddie Ruiz. Entrapment of the epiglottis shuts down a horse's air passages.

"Soundness is not an issue," Ruiz said. "She's fresh and that contributed to the problem she encountered."

Ruiz said fertility issues led to the 10-year-old Fui being put back in training. She is owned by Hope Farms. The race Sept. 20 was her first since running at Belmont Park in October 2002.

Local qualifier for NHC on Saturday

During a handicapping tournament Saturday at Louisiana Downs, 25 horseplayers will compete for three spots in the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas in January.

The 25 players earned a seat in the local qualifier for their performances in a series of handicapping contests held at Louisiana Downs throughout the meet. There were five in all, with the top five finishers from each advancing to the local qualifier on Saturday.

In addition to cash prizes, the top three finishers Saturday will win a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the NHC. It will be held at the Red Rock Casino on Jan. 29-30.

* Rockittown should get a decent pace set-up Thursday in the eighth race, a $12,000 optional claimer at a mile on turf. The race is restricted to 3-year-olds and up bred in Louisiana. Rockittown closed for second at this level last out, beaten a neck. Simington has the mount for trainer Pamela Simpson.

* There are two $100,000 divisions of the Louisiana Stallion Stakes and two $50,000 divisions of the Razorback series for Arkansas-breds on Saturday at Louisiana Downs. All are sprints for 2-year-olds.