10/22/2009 12:00AM

Takes more than a black eye to bother Albarado


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Robby Albarado should look nice and pretty again by the time the Breeders' Cup rolls around Nov. 6-7. In the meantime, the 36-year-old jockey is sporting one heck of a shiner, the result of what he considers a lucky break.

Albarado was thrown at the start of the sixth race last Saturday when the filly My Baby Baby stumbled out of the gate. "As I was falling to the ground, she caught me with a front hoof right below my [right] eye," said Albarado. "It didn't even hurt, but my goggles filled up right away with blood, and I couldn't see the next day because my eye was completely swollen shut."

Albarado knows all too well the perils of his profession, having suffered a number of more serious injuries, including a skull fracture so severe in 1998 that he had a permanent wire-mesh device surgically implanted.

"This one could have been a whole lot worse," he said. "She could have caught me in the temple or someplace really bad. I feel pretty lucky about this one."

After taking off his mounts Sunday, Albarado has picked right up where he left off, winning twice Wednesday and taking the second race on Thursday. He is seeking to repeat here after being the leading jockey at the 2008 fall meet with 22 winners. Into Thursday action, he held a 12-10 lead over Julien Leparoux.

Young Ohio trainer wins again

Trainer Jevon (sounds like Kevin) Crumley exited the winner's circle after the third race Wednesday to absolutely no fanfare - although deep inside, Crumley, 29, could barely contain himself after sending out Rock Hard Candy to victory in a $16,000 claiming sprint.

"This is a great, great feeling," said Crumley, a Cleveland-area native who oversees about 35 horses at his primary base, Thistledown, and into Thursday had won 65 races this year.

Not only was the win the second of the Keeneland meet for Crumley and jockey Weldon Cloninger Jr. - they also teamed to win a race opening day, Oct. 9, with El Indy - but the Wednesday score extended a remarkable streak for Rock Hard Candy, a 5-year-old Illinois-bred mare. Since Crumley assumed her training following a runner-up finish in a conditioned $5,000 claiming race at Turfway Park in January, she has racked up 6 wins and 4 seconds from 10 starts.

Fort Prado entered for final start

Eight-year-old Fort Prado could be making the 59th and last start of his distinguished career Saturday in the eighth race at Keeneland, although the rain that's expected here this weekend could put off the farewells for a week, said trainer Chris Block.

"If the turf comes up soft like they're saying, he'll run the following Saturday on the dirt at Hawthorne" in the $100,000 Lightning Jet on the Illinois-bred stakes program, said Block.

Fort Prado, owned by Team Block, has won 18 races and earned more than $1.2 million.

Dowager draws 11 entrants

A field of 11 is scheduled to clash Sunday in the $125,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes, the filly-mare counterpart to the Sycamore Stakes, the turf marathon that was run here Thursday for male horses.

Winter View, winner of the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes here in the spring, figures as one of the logical choices for trainer Jonathan Sheppard and jockey Julien Leparoux. Other contenders include Caprice, Ballynoe, Lemonette, and Black Mamba.

Graham headed home for big event

Jockey Jimmy Graham is cutting his Keeneland meet a few days short so as to be with his wife, Lisa, in New Orleans when she has the couple's first child. Graham's last day of riding here will be Sunday, with the birth scheduled for Monday.

Graham, 30, scored the first Grade 1 victory of his career last Saturday aboard Hot Cha Cha in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

WinStar has another nice juvenile

WinStar Farm had another highly impressive 2-year-old romp to victory when Chief Counsel led most of the way in winning a maiden race Thursday under Kent Desormeaux. Chief Counsel, an Officer colt trained by Bill Mott, was making his fourth start.

WinStar unveiled a top prospect here Sunday when American Lion, a Tiznow colt trained by Eion Harty, easily won a maiden race.

* Leslie Guttman will be here Sunday before the races to sign copies of her new book, "Equine ER: Stories from a Year in the Life of an Equine Veterinary Hospital." The book captures stories from the Rood and Riddle equine clinic.