05/06/2004 12:00AM

Thistledown: Race honors Rowland


Eight Ohio-bred 3-year-olds and upward meet over six furlongs in the inaugural running of the $40,000 Mike Rowland Memorial Handicap. The six-furlong race honors the memory of Thistledown's all-time leading rider, who died in February from injuries sustained in a race at Turfway Park.

The race's co-highweights, Wedonit and Wirebender, are certain to draw support from the betting public.

Wedonit, a 4-year-old chestnut gelding, has not raced since Dec. 20 at Beulah Park, when he won the six-furlong Samuel Handicap. A homebred son of Stalwars out of Theydonittoknight, Wedonit comes into the race sporting four bullet works, and it appears as though trainer Bob Jeanotte has him ready for a top effort.

Wedonit has the speed to set the pace and is capable of wiring this field. He is owned by Larry A. Byer and will be ridden by Luis Antonio Gonzalez.

Wirebender set the pace into the stretch before tiring to be unplaced in the Edward Babst Memorial at Beulah Park in his last start, on April 10. In his only other start this year, Wirebender won going 5 1/2 furlongs against $30,000 claimers at Mountaineer. He is owned by Laurie Hickman, trained by Jeff Greenhill, and will be ridden by Christian Rojas.

Of the others in the Rowland field, Hank's Rib and Catlaunch appear to have a chance of winning.