05/08/2007 11:00PM

Strong response for Ohio Derby


Nominations for the 72nd running of the Grade 2, $300,000 Ohio Derby don't close until May 23, but there already has been a strong response from trainers, according to Bill Couch, director for racing and racing secretary at Thistledown. Couch said he has five possibles for the June 2 derby, including two starters from the Kentucky Derby - fifth-place finisher Sedgefield, trained by Darrin Miller, and the Doug O'Neill-trained Liquidity.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is thinking about sending his undefeated Divine Park, winner of the Withers Stakes in his last start, and Ken McPeek may send Bold Start, the third-place finisher in the Derby Trial. Another possibility is Hal's My Hope, winner of the Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream. He is trained by Barry Rose.

* Thistledown fans packed the grandstand and stepped up to the windows on Kentucky Derby Day, betting a track record of $1,943,862 on the day.

"It was a fantastic day with an enthusiastic crowd," first-year general manager Brent Reitz said. "They responded to a great race and got to see a super horse. Our employees and horsemen delivered a superb show to make the day perfect."

Attendance is free at Thistledown and the crowd was estimated at 12,000.

* Tommy Meyers, dean of the jockey colony at age 61, is still going strong and is believed to be the oldest rider to win a race here. Through Tuesday, he had ridden 14,273 horses and won with 2,363 of them. He has won more stakes in Ohio than any other rider.

Weldon Cloninger Jr., who broke his back in a spill here last June, is back in top form and riding at a winning clip of 37 percent. He has won with 15 of 41 mounts and is second in the jockey standings, one winner behind Jeffrey Skerrett.

Jeff Radosevich has a five-win advantage, 15-10, over Burton Sipp, in the trainer race.