07/06/2006 11:00PM

Skip's Bet looks a cut above rest


AURORA, Colo. - Sunday's $25,000-added Ruffian Handicap at Arapahoe Park has drawn a wide-open field of eight 3-year-old fillies. Only one of the entrants in the seven-furlong affair has won two races.

Skip's Bet, the lone two-time winner, merits slight favoritism, despite her poor showing in the $28,000 Inaugural Handicap here. She finished last of 10 in that June 10 race, her second start of the year. She finished second in an Albuquerque allowance race in April to begin her season. Skip's Bet, trained by James Jones, has trained well since the Inaugural, recording two bullet workouts.

A Colorado-bred daughter of Skip Away, Skip's Bet recorded both of her victories here last season. She won a trial for the Colorado Breeders Lassie by 3 3/4 lengths, and then had a cakewalk in the finals as she destroyed a field of nine by nine widening lengths. Russell Vicchrilli, who rode her in both of her starts here last year, will be aboard on Sunday. Skip's Bet is owned and was bred by Willard Burbach.

I Can Dream, coming off a maiden win at SunRay Park in her second start, will likely offer the stiffest opposition to Skip's Bet. In her debut, she finished third this spring against solid maiden company at Sunland Park.

I Can Dream should draw strong support in here. A daughter of Horse of the Year Favorite Trick, who was recently killed in a New Mexico barn fire, I Can Dream is trained by Earl McKinnon.

Jockeys help youngster

Last Sunday, the Arapahoe jockey colony brought a little boy's dream to life. The riders presented 7-year-old Ian Unrih with a motorized bicycle/scooter. Unrih was seriously injured as a young child in an mower accident that affected the growth plates in his knees. After 37 operations, Unrih was unable to ride a bike like his brothers.

Trainer Monk Hall told jockey Carl Kutz about Unrih's dream to be able ride a bike. Along with the rest of the jockey colony and racetrack chaplain Carl Crisswell, the jockeys collected enough funds to purchase the special bike. The charitable gesture brought tears of joy to many in the huge winner's circle presentation and a wide-eyed smile to the face of Unrih, who is now convinced he will be able to beat his brothers in a race.