05/21/2001 11:00PM

Team West proves best in Riding Cup


ALTOONA, Iowa - The Team West of Corey Nakatani, Laffit Pincay Jr., Victor Espinoza, and Terry Thompson defeated the Team East of Pat Day, Jerry Bailey, Jorge Chavez, and Luis Quinonez in the fourth annual Riding Cup on Monday at Prairie Meadows.

The final score was 48-60 in favor of Team West.

The Riding Cup, a three-race jockey challenge, began with the fifth race on the program. A jockey earned 1 point for his team by winning a race, 2 points for finishing second, and so on.

In the first race of the Riding Cup, Nakatani won aboard Home a Winner ($14.20) for Team West. Vrancon (Chavez) finished second in the $20,000 claiming race, which was run at a mile and 70 yards, and Alaskan Lights finished third under Espinoza. Team West held a 13-23 advantage after the first race.

Team East closed the gap in the second race, however, as it scored a one-two finish, with Day winning on Sweet Sailin ($19.40) as War Nose and Chavez finished second. Kates Pepper (Nakatani) finished third in the six-furlong allowance race for Iowa-bred fillies and mares.

Team West held a 33-39 lead over Team East heading into the final race.

Pincay wrapped up the Riding Cup title for Team West by guiding Stark Bite ($23.20) to a gate-to-wire victory over Tippys Morningstar, who overcame a slow start to finish second under Chavez. Lucky Socks, with Nakatani aboard, finished third, giving Team West the victory by a 12-point margin.

The victory was Team West's first in the Riding Cup. Team East took the first two Riding Cups and Team Midwest captured last year's Riding Cup, when three teams competed. Prairie Meadows presented a check for $10,000 to the Des Moines-area Ronald McDonald House on behalf of Team West.

Although Bailey didn't win a Riding Cup race, he did not come away empty handed on Monday. Bailey guided Junior Deputy to a five-length victory in the afternoon's feature race, the $60,000 Prairie Mile Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Junior Deputy stalked Solingen through a leisurely half-mile in 48.47 seconds. Junior Deputy took command when asked in upper stretch and drew clear despite racing erratically and jumping tire tracks in deep stretch. He covered the mile in 1:36.76. Compendium finished second and Solingen held third.

The victory was Junior Deputy's third straight since being claimed for $45,000 out a maiden race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 28 by owners Nicki Proscia and Robert Ise. David Fawkes trains Junior Deputy, a gelded son of Mr. Purple.

Total mutuel handle on the 10-race program was $1,459,709, the fourth-highest in track history. It was the first time Prairie Meadows passed the $1 million mark since the meet began April 27.