05/21/2001 11:00PM

Team West takes Riding Cup


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

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. The winner was the team with the fewest points.

In the first race of the Riding Cup, Nakatani won aboard Home a Winner ($14.20) for Team West. Vrancon (Chavez up) 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) and War Nose and Chavez finishing 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 final score of 48-60.

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 race during the Riding Cup, he did not come away empty-handed. Bailey guided Junior Deputy to a five-length victory in the day's feature race, the $60,000 Prairie Mile Stakes.