07/23/2008 12:00AM

Stokes claims riding title


Louis Stokes, a 29-year-old native of Lafayette, La., won the hotly contested riding title at the 56-day Summit meeting, which concluded last week. His 38 wins were two better than runner-up Weldon Cloninger Jr. Jeffrey Skerrett was third with 35. Cloninger and Skerrett were co-champions at last year's corresponding meeting.

"It feels great to win my first title, a lot better than last year," said Stokes, who suffered four cracked ribs and a punctured lung in a spill here in 2007.

Jeff Radosevich's 34 winners topped the trainer standings, his 12th title here. Rodney Faulkner was second with 29, eight better than Burton Sipp in third.

Ayers Ratliff is the new track announcer at Thistledown, replacing Matt Hook, who is now the announcer at the inaugural Pinnacle Race Course meeting in suburban Detroit.

Ratliff, 31, is the full-time announcer at the nearby Northfield Park harness track and will be doing double duty.

"Although it's all horse racing, Thoroughbred racing is much different than harness," he said. "I'll keep it simple until I really learn the sport."

Through Wednesday, rider Felipe Santos was one short of his 1,000th career winner.