05/16/2006 11:00PM

Stiff competition for Ben's Reflection

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A strong field of eight provides a handicapping challenge in the $30,000 Shaker Heights Handicap on Friday at Thistledown. The six-furlong race is restricted to 3-year-olds and upward who have started at Thistledown in 2005-06.

Ohio-bred sprint champion Ben's Reflection, a 6-year-old gelding who has a career record of 14-6-4 from 26 starts and earnings of more than $300,000, is the 123-pound highweight. While his stakes wins have come in statebred races, Ben's Reflection has beaten open company on numerous occasions.

In his seasonal debut, in the six-furlong Edward Babst Memorial at Beulah Park on May 6, Ben's Reflection was steadily gaining ground while finishing second. Last season, he won the Best of Ohio Sprint for the second year in a row. Ben's Reflection is trained by Michael Nance and will be ridden by Jeff Johnson.

I Cant Refuse comes into his first start of the year following a bullet half-mile work on May 13. He beat Ben's Reflection in the six-furlong Honey Jay Stakes at Thistledown last September, then finished third behind him in the Best of Ohio Sprint. I Cant Refuse has the speed to challenge for the early lead. Trained by his owner, Arthur Bosley, I Cant Refuse will carry 116 and has leading rider Scott Speith in the saddle.

Tour the Hive is a durable 9-year-old gelding who has fashioned a 19-11-13 record in 75 starts while banking $660,828. On May 8 he beat a good field of allowance horses going a mile and 70 yards at Mountaineer. He has a strong late kick when sprinting. A quick early pace, which is almost assured in Friday's race, would enhance Tour the Hive's chances. Ricardo Feliciano will ride for his uncle, trainer Miguel Feliciano.

Leading trainer Jeff Radosevich sends out One Royal Affair, who will be looking for his third straight win. A little improvement off his previous two races, one at Thistledown and the other at Mountaineer, would make him a solid factor.

Canterbury

Although Canterbury Park has hosted only four days of racing since its Derby Day opening, it hasn't taken jockey Israel Ocampo very long to make an impression on local race fans.

Ocampo has won four races at this meeting from just 13 mounts and put an exclamation point on that statistic with an eye-catching finish in the eighth race last Sunday to prevail by a half-length aboard Turbulent Thinking in an allowance, edging 1-2 favorite Glitter Star.

Ocampo, 19, came to Canterbury from Chicago after beginning his riding career in Mexico. Ocampo won five races after shipping in late for the Hawthorne meeting and has an opportunity to bolster his numbers at this meet with the void left by last year's leading rider Seth Martinez, who is not riding at Canterbury this season. Ocampo is named on 13 mounts Friday and Saturday at Canterbury.

* John King, a veterinarian, was named the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association's Member of the Year at the organization's annual awards ceremony last Saturday at Canterbury. On a volunteer basis, King performs a wide variety of tasks for the association, ranging from working countless hours in the barn area at the annual MTA yearling auction to working as a bid spotter at the annual stallion service auction. King's wife, Kay, works as the executive director of the association.

- David M. Miller

Finger Lakes

Storm on the Lake ($20), winner of the Niagara Stakes as a 3-year-old filly three years ago but winless since wining an allowance in November 2003, regained her form by leading wire to wire in a $20,500 overnight handicap last Sunday at Finger Lakes.

The 6-year-old Storm on the Lake, trained by Charlton Baker, provided leading jockey John Davila Jr. with his third of four wins on the card.

On Monday, Davila recorded the 2,000th local victory of his career. He is still far away from Leslie Hulet, the track's all-time leading jockey, who rode 3,244 of his 3,306 career winners at Finger Lakes.

* The 4-year-old filly Sweet Sweet Molly ($8.70) became the first three-time winner of the meet when she scored by 3 1/4 lengths in a second-level allowance for New York-breds on Tuesday. Jeremias Flores rode Sweet Sweet Molly, who is now 6 for 10 lifetime, for trainer James Wright.

* Jockey Carlos Dominguez collected his 1,500th career win last Friday when Ultra Pop returned from an eight-month layoff to upset the eighth race, paying $73.50.

- Joe DeVivo

Mountaineer

She's That Cat ($7.80) erased what looked like an insurmountable lead by pacesetter Rain Song to capture Tuesday night's $75,000 Hancock County Handicap at Mountaineer Race Track.

Rain Song, the 1-2 favorite, appeared well on her way to her fifth straight victory when she opened up a seven-length lead at the three-eighths pole of the five-furlong stakes and was still comfortably on top by three lengths with a furlong remaining.

But when Rain Song began to drift in and weaken, She's That Cat rallied strongly to draw clear by 1 1/2 lengths. She got the distance over a sloppy, sealed track in 57.34 seconds.

A 4-year-old filly ridden by Dana Whitney for trainer Steve Flint, She's That Cat is now 3 for 3 shipping into Mountaineer from her Kentucky base.

- Joe DeVivo

Turf Paradise

Miguel Hernandez rode five of the nine winners on Sunday's program at Turf Paradise to move within two of leading jockey Glen Corbett's 117 wins heading into the final three days of the long meet, which began last Sept. 30 and concludes Sunday.

"It's real simple what I have to do: win races," said Hernandez, 40, of Mexico City. "I'm giving it my best shot."

Hernandez's roll started in the first race with Swoon's Buck ($9.20). He then won the third and fourth races with At Sunrise ($12) and Nezi O ($5.60). Hernandez put together his second consecutive double with Saraswatianmahagan ($7.40) and Devil Cop ($10.20) in the sixth and seventh races.

Corbett left Turf Paradise more than a month ago for his annual stint at Prairie Meadows in Iowa. He had a 31-win margin at the time.

Hernandez has been ranked in the year-end top five in the riding colony for each of the five years he has ridden at Turf Paradise.

"Top five is nice, but number one is better," said Hernandez. "In fact it's the best. There's only one weekend left to do it."

- Michael Hammersly

Zia Park

Zia Park has increased the purses of a number of its stakes and introduced a major Quarter Horse invitational futurity as part of its 33-race schedule for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. The mixed meet will open Sept. 23 and continue through Dec. 12.

Of the stakes, 20 are for Thoroughbreds. Total stakes purses this meet exceed $3.8 million. Last year, the inaugural meet opened with a schedule of 32 stakes worth $2.4 million.

The richest Thoroughbred race is the $250,000 Zia Park Distance Championship, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up Dec. 10. Last year, it was worth $106,000.

The Zia Park Derby at 1 1/16 miles Dec. 9 has also been boosted in value, from $107,600 to $150,000. In another significant increase, the Premier Stakes, for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs Sept. 24, has gone from $50,000 to $150,000. Part of the purse is derived from the Breeders' Cup Fund.

The $250,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship for Quarter Horses will be run Dec. 3. The winners of nine Grade 1 futurities run outside of California will earn berths into the 440-yard race, including the winner of the All-American Futurity.

The New Mexico Cup program Nov. 12 will feature 11 stakes worth more than $1.5 million for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. The Classic Championship, at one mile, has been increased from $147,000 to $170,000 for this year's running.

- Mary Rampellini

2006 Zia Park stakes schedule

DATEEVENTCONDITIONSDISTANCEPURSE
Sat.,Sept. 23James Isaac Hobbs3YO & Up350 yards$60,000
Sun.,Sept. 24Premier Stakes3YO & Up6 furlongs150,000
Sat.,Oct. 7Lubbock StakesF&M, 3YO & Up400 yards60,000
Sun.,Oct. 8Zia Park Distaff StakesF&M, 3YO & Up6 furlongs75,000
Sat.,Oct. 14Kachina Mile3YO & Up1 mile75,000
Sun.,Oct. 15Hobbs America Futurity2YO400 yards250,000
Sun.,Oct. 15Hobbs America DerBy3YO440 yards50,000
Sat.,Oct. 21Herman Jefferson3YO & Up, QH/TB870 yards60,000
Sun.,Oct. 22Permian Basin Stakes2YO F6 furlongs75,000
Sun.,Oct. 29Governor's Stakes2YO6 furlongs75,000
Sun.,Oct. 29Cap Rock Stakes3YO F6 furlongs75,000
Sat.,Nov. 4Lovington Stakes3YO & Up400 yards60,000
Sun.,Nov. 5Lea County Sprint3YO6 furlongs75,000
Sat.,Nov. 11Veterans Stakes3YO & Up1 1/16 miles100,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Cup Juvenile Fillies2YO F*6 1/2 furlongs130,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Cup Juvenile Colts2YO*6 1/2 furlongs130,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Cup Fillies Championship3YO F*6 1/2 furlongs130,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Cup Colts Championship3YO*6 1/2 furlongs130,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Cup Sprint Championship3YO & Up*6 furlongs155,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Cup Classic Championship3YO & Up*1 mile170,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Cup Fillies & Mares Champ.F&M, 3YO & Up*6 1/2 furlongs155,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Classic Futurity2YO*400 yards110,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Classic Derby3YO*440 yards110,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Cup QH Championship3YO & Up*440 yards150,000
Sun.,Nov. 12NM Cup 870 Championship3YO & Up*870 yards130,000
Fri.,Nov. 24Eddy County Stakes2YO1 mile75,000
Sat.,Nov. 25Chaves CountyF&M, 3YO & Up1 mile75,000
Sun.,Nov. 26Black Gold Casino Stakes3YO & Up1,000 yards75,000
Sat.,Dec. 2Zia Park Express3YO & Up6 1/2 furlongs75,000
Sun.,Dec. 3Southwest Juv. Championship2YO**440 yards250,000
Sat.,Dec. 9Zia Park Derby3YO1 1/16 miles150,000
Sun., Dec. 10Zia Park Distance Championship3YO & Up1 1/8 miles250,000
Sun.,Dec. 10Zia Park QH Championship3YO & Up440 yards200,000

* New Mexico-bred; ** Invitational