09/03/2004 11:00PM

Thistledown: Majestic Dinner back


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - The $75,000 Governor's Buckeye Handicap will be run at Thistledown for the first time and has drawn a strong field of 12 Ohio-bred 3-year-olds and up. The other 51 runnings of the 1 1/4-mile race were held at River Downs.

The most interesting horse in the race is the 7-year-old Majestic Dinner, who has won this race twice and has a 16-4-3 record from 31 starts. He won this race as a 4-year-old in 2001 and again as a 5-year-old in 2002. After the 2002 win he came back to win the 10-furlong Ohio Endurance that October. He then was away from the races until May 15, 2004. He has made four starts this season, winning his most recent, the nine-furlong George Lewis Memorial here June 30. Trainer Miguel Feliciano has worked him on a regular basis since then, including a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Aug. 29.

Majestic Dinner is one of nine entrants who will carry 122 pounds. He will be ridden by Ricardo Feliciano and is coupled with Forest Picnic.

Real Echo and Brent's Challanger are Majestic Dinner's main competition.

Real Echo, who is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, was a fast-closing second to Majestic Dinner in the George Lewis, beaten a nose after a rough trip. Weldon Cloninger Jr. gets the return call.

Brent's Challanger was second, beaten a head, in the Buckeye Native Handicap in his last start, going 1 1/16 miles on the River Downs turf, and before that won the Gendelman Handicap under similar conditions there. Daniel Centeno will ride for owner-trainer Lori Grace.