04/18/2006 11:00PM

Thrillin Discovery retired from racing at 11

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Thrillin Discovery, a mainstay in the south Florida handicap division during the late 1990's and earlier this decade, has been retired at age 11.

, a grey son of Alaskan Frost, ended his career with a fourth-place finish while racing under a $6,250 claiming tag here last Saturday. He retires with a career record of 19 wins and 15 seconds from 91 starts and earnings of over $543,000.

Thrillin Discovery had the majority of his success during his 3-year-old and 4-year-old campaigns while racing for the Three G Stable and trainer Luis Olivares. A five-time stakes winner, Thrillin Discovery's most noteworthy accomplishments included winning back-to-back renewals of Calder's Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap in 1998 and 1999.

Thrillin Discovery captured just 1 of 14 starts in 2005 and was winless in four tries this season while racing for owner Frank Coniglio and trainer Ross Wolfendale. Thrillin Discovery remained a popular item at the claim box during his 10-year-old campaign, changing hands several times.

According to Megan Connolly, who acquired the horse after his last race, Thrillin Discovery retired sound and will be sent to a farm in Warrenton, Va. to "live out the rest of his days in peace."

One old war horse still going strong is Western Halo, a 10-year-old who captured his second race of the year last Saturday, when he rallied to a 1 1/2-length victory while racing under a $20,000 claiming tag over the turf here. The win was the 11th in 63 starts for Western Halo, who is owned and trained by Edwin Broome.

Big-name trainers' presence still to be felt

Trainers Todd Pletcher, Eoin Harty, Bill Mott, John Ward, Rick Dutrow, and Mark Hennig have already departed the area for greener pastures up north, but their stables continue to be a factor on the local scene, especially in grass races. This will be evident in Friday's $35,000 feature, carded at 1 1/16 miles on turf for second-level allowance runners.

Pletcher will send out the uncoupled pair of Rectory Hill and Norfield as the likely favorites in a field that includes Sun Boat (Harty), Charlevoix (Mott), Conservationist (Ward), Sabre Baby (Dutrow), and Run the Light (Hennig).

Nominations roll in for Calder stakes

Nominations closed earlier this week for the $40,000 Snurb Stakes, the feature race on Tuesday's opening-day card at Calder. Among the most prominent names among the 3-year-old fillies eligible for the six-furlong dash are stakes winners Stolen Prayer and Running Lass, and Vivaldi Girl, a two-time Group 1 Puerto Rican juvenile winner.

Nominations close Friday for all four stakes to be run at Calder on Saturday, April 29. The Grade 3, $150,000 Miami Mile Breeders' Cup and $150,000 Hollywood Wildcat Breeders' Cup Handicap highlight the card, which also includes the $100,000 Unbridled Stakes and Ponche Handicap.

The 1 1/16-mile Unbridled appears to be shaping up as the best race of the day, with Rehoboth, R Loyal Man, Electrify, and Bushmill Best among the early nominees.

Mott is expected to send out Old Forester against T. D. Vance in the Miami Mile and has also nominated six fillies and mares for the 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Wildcat, including Pommes Frites, Angara, and My Lordship.

* Jose "Pepe" Mendez, a member of both the Calder and Oriental Park Hall of Fame, has retired. Mendez, who came to south Florida from his native Cuba, won the 1981 training championship at Calder as well as four divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes during his long career. He has turned over his stable to former assistant Javier Negrete for the opening of the 2006 Calder session.

* Apprentice jockey Jeffrey Sanchez continues to make a big impression on the local front. Sanchez won both ends of the daily double for the second time in less than a week when he rode Hope to Dance and longshot Halo Goodbye to victories in the first two races on Wednesday's card. He also accounted for a $157 early daily double Friday.