GRANTS PASS — Only three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby in its 138-year history. The last to do so was Winning Colors in 1988, when Gary Stevens rode her wire to wire for the roses.
On Saturday, a granddaughter of Winning Colors can be seen at Grants Pass Downs. Color Me Tuff is one of six entries in the Miss Josephine County Purse for Oregon-bred fillies and mares.
"I got her as a 2-year-old, unbroke," said owner Ray Andrews, who has been racing Color Me Tuff at Emerald Downs and Portland Meadows.
"This season she won on opening day at Portland and again at the end of the meet," Andrews said.
Tad Skaggs will ride the 5-year-old filly, who is trained by Sally Reid.
"Her jockeys have to hold her back," Andrews said. "She can outrun herself if she takes the lead. I like to see her just behind the speed horses.
"Usually she's pretty easy, but if she doesn't get on the track enough, she might want to bite a little bit. Right now, her ears are poking back and she's pacing her stall, feeling cranky."
Andrews added on Wednesday: "Today we'll pony her, let her stand at the gate, take her to the paddock. We'll steady her. She likes to check things out."
FANS HAVE something new to shout about. Don Jackson bought the gate for Saturday's racing at the Downs. This means free admission for everybody. Apparently the 86-year-old founding father of local horse racing got out of the hospital this week and went straight to the bank.
"He was here from the beginning and he's still contributing to the meet," said Lonnie Craig, assistant racing director. Craig noted that two of Saturday's $3,000-purse races are honoring Jackson. "It's his day."
TRAINER BRENDA ESTES and her partner Clay Worden, a former bull rider, are giving ex-racehorses second careers. This year, they have adopted out more than 300 thoroughbreds from their local facility.
"We've found them homes as show horses, pleasure horses, even ranch horses pushing cows," she said.
The successes of their West Coast Racehorse Rescue/Adoption Center can be followed on Facebook. For details, email email@example.com.
Estes has two horses running at the Downs. She calls them "equally wonderful," but Stand Tall, entered in the sixth race Saturday, has been at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita and should prove surpassingly wonderful. Emilio Guerrero is training Estes' horses while she takes some time off this week to have a baby.
- MORE JOCKEYS have come to town to make up for a shortage caused by a rash of injuries. Hugo Herrera, Jake Samuels and Jose Figueroa have mounts Saturday. Also, April Boag hopes to rejoin her peers as early as Sunday. She was tied with Ruben Camacho for leading jock when she bruised her shoulder in a fall last Sunday.
- RAY MACMULLIN recently returned from Hawaii to enjoy a sunny day at the track. The 82-year-old trainer, owner, exercise rider and timer still keeps all his licenses up to date, just in case. After a four-year layoff, he's ready to resume riding.
"There's no horse racing in Hawaii," he said. "It's too expensive. A bale of alfalfa costs $29 — and it comes from Klamath Falls!"
MANY RACEGOERS have been profiting from Dynamite Mike's Selections. The $1 tout sheet, available at the Downs, picked several quinellas and trifectas over opening weekend. All proceeds go to benefit Southern Oregon horse racing.
Dan Guthrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org