03/14/2002 1:00AM

Von Hemel knows family value


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Donnie Von Hemel, who will send out millionaire Mr Ross in the Grade 3, $100,000 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, has insight into the family of the race's probable favorite, Crafty Shaw.

Von Hemel trained Crafty Shaw's half-sister Her She Kisses until she was sold as a 4-year-old. A multiple stakes winner, Her She Kisses has earned $270,595.

"She was a big, stout filly, and she had a lot of speed," said Von Hemel. "We sprinted her, but when she did stretch out in California, she was placed in a Grade 2. That's a good, solid family."

Mr Ross is the chief threat to Crafty Shaw in the Razorback. He had his best season last year, winning four of eight starts and $442,400, and had particular success at Oaklawn, winning the Grade 3 Essex, Grade 3 Razorback, and finishing second to the recently retired Traditionally in the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap.

Von Hemel is hopeful that Mr Ross, who is now 7, can be as effective this year as he was last.

"It's going to take a couple of races in that kind of company to see if he is or not, but I look around at Sir Bear and horses like that, and it makes me think we can hold that kind of class," he said.

Sir Bear finished fifth behind Traditionally and Mr Ross in last year's Oaklawn Handicap.

Quinonez on Red N' Gold

Luis Quinonez has picked up the mount on $50,000 Pippin Stakes winner Red n'Gold in the $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup on Saturday after her regular rider, Terry Thompson, was sidelined with a broken thumb last week. Bob Holthus trains Red n'Gold, and last month, he and Quinonez teamed to win the $50,000 King Cotton with Kings Command.

One of Red n'Gold's strengths is her record at Oaklawn. She won her maiden by 16 1/4 lengths over the local strip last year, and this year won the Pippin by five lengths.

Holthus looks for California shipper Ask Me No Secrets to be prominent early in the Oaklawn BC.

"We've got enough speed where we can kind of lay comfortable, and hopefully kick on at the head of the lane," said Holthus.

"It's a tough race," he added. "There's no easy ones in there."

Purses raised again

Oaklawn has increased purses for the third time this meet, and the new structure will go into effect Saturday.

Purses for claiming races will be increased by $500 each, while allowance and maiden special weight races will be boosted by $1,000.

An increase in offtrack wagering and the success of Instant Racing, a parimutuel game that plays like a slot machine, led to the purse boost. Last month during 19 days of operation, Oaklawn handled $2 million on Instant Racing.

Eric Jackson, Oaklawn's general manager, said that total parimutuel handle at this year's meet stands at $139 million, compared with $111 million during the same period a year ago. Attendance is up 6 percent over 2001.

* Mrs. Irene Udouj, a prominent owner and breeder who raced multiple stakes winner Barbizon Streak with her husband, Herman, died Wednesday. She was 83. Irene Udouj operated Sundridge Farm near Fort Smith, Ark., with her husband, who died five years ago. The couple's signature stallion was Mambo.