04/14/2004 12:00AM

Thistledown track report


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - The race for leading trainer at the Summit meeting, which began at Thistledown on April 8, could turn into quite a battle. With the majority of races run here for claiming horses, it is somewhat surprising that the meet has attracted so many trainers with large stables and impressive career credentials.

Tops among that list are Jerry Hollendorfer and Dale Baird. Hollendorfer, who is nearing his 4,000th career win, has a stable of 30 horses here. Hollendorfer ranked fourth in the nation last year with 282 winners. Baird, who has won 15 national training titles and is North America's all-time winningest trainer with close to 9,000 wins, saddled 137 winners last year. He is based at Mountaineer Park, but ships horses to run here on an almost daily basis.

Other trainers who figure to win their share of races are Michigan kingpin Gerald Bennett, who has 35 horses here; last year's leading trainer Rodney Faulkner, who has 34; Faulkner's father, Joe, who also has 34; and Gary Johnson, who has won 23 local titles and trains a stable of 41 horses.

And, handicappers should not overlook horses trained by Rodrigo Madrigal Sr., who had his best year in 2003; long-time regular Joe Shuman; Jeff Radosevich; Joe Martin, who is up from Oaklawn with 30; and Tony Rini.