08/27/2002 11:00PM

Supplemental entry Lone Star Sky is Cradle standout


Lone Star Sky, runner-up in the Aug. 14 Saratoga Special in his last start, will run Monday in the $200,000 Cradle Stakes at River Downs, after being supplemented to the race for $12,000 by owner Walter "Buddy" New.

Lone Star Sky figures to be a heavy favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Cradle, the annual highlight of the racing season at River Downs in Cincinnati. Mark Guidry will be in from New York to ride Lone Star Sky.

Trained by Tom Amoss, Lone Star Sky won his career debut at Arlington Park in June, then won the Grade 2 Bashford Manor Stakes in his next start. In his only race since, Lone Star Sky encountered some traffic trouble while clearly second-best in the Saratoga Special to Zavata, who is widely regarded as the early leader of the 2-year-old division in North America.

Besides Lone Star Sky, the Cradle is expected to attract perhaps nine other starters, River Downs racing secretary Gary Wilfert said Wednesday. Foremost among them are: Christmas Away, an impressive winner at Arlington in his only start for trainer Pat Byrne; Payforaday, winner of the Cradle prep; and one or two starters, including King of the World, from the barn of Ken McPeek, who won the Cradle last year with Harlan's Holiday. Cradle entries will be drawn Friday.

The Monday program, which closes out the spring-summer meet at River, also closes out the three-day Cradle Stakes Weekend Festival. In addition, Monday is America's Day at the Races, with River serving as the hub for the annual America's Day pick three wager. The $1 minimum wager starts with the Cradle and is followed by the Matron from Arlington and the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap.

River Downs management and Miller Genuine Draft, the title sponsor of the Cradle, will have a huge hospitality tent set up on the clubhouse turn, where hundreds of invited guests will be treated to an afternoon of racing and partying.

The Weekend Festival begins Saturday with the $100,000 Bassinet Stakes, a six-furlong race that drew a field of nine 2-year-old fillies. Crystal Dancer, unbeaten in two starts for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, is the probable favorite. Other contenders include Fables Brush and Clear Pouch, both trained by McPeek.

The Sunday feature is the $75,000 Governor's Buckeye Cup for older state-breds at 1 1/4 miles.

McKee chasing Cauthen's record

Apprentice rider John McKee Jr. is not only a sure winner of the 2002 jockeys' title at River, but also a candidate to break a 26-year-old River Downs record held by Hall of Fame jockey Steve Cauthen.

Going into the final five-day stretch of racing, McKee had ridden 101 winners, eight short of the 109 winners Cauthen rode as an apprentice at River in 1976. McKee rode four winners Tuesday.

"I'm not out to break any records, but just to ride as many winners as I can for the people who put me up," McKee said.

Spokeshorse on display

Phantom on Tour, an Ohio-bred who ran sixth in the 1997 Kentucky Derby and later in his career was rescued by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation when competing in cheap claiming company, will be paraded on the racetrack Sunday before the Governor's Buckeye Cup.

Phantom on Tour is now the TRF's "spokeshorse," and the Thoroughbred in Residence at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville.