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Couric Wins Friday Feature; Miguel Mena Reaches 1,000-Career Win Milestone

Jockey Miguel Mena propelled Robert Orth and Wesley Hawley’s Couric to a front-running 7 1/2-length tally in Friday’s featured $51,000 allowance optional claiming feature at Fair Grounds, leaving the Peruvian reinsman one victory shy of the 1,000-career win milestone.

One race later, astride Kevin Mullikin’s Pioneering Native in Friday’s Fair Grounds finale, Mena reached that personal milestone using similar front-running tactics on his way to a 3 1/2-length win.

“It’s big,” said Mena, after posing in the winner’s circle with his fellow riders and a sign denoting the 1000-win accomplishment.  “It’s the result of a lot of hard work, and I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I’d like to thank God and all the people who stuck by me and helped me get to this point in my career.  I didn’t even realize I was that close until I had that five-win day the other day (Feb. 21).”

Mena ended Friday’s race day with 59 wins at the current session and was in fourth position in the local standings.

In the featured penultimate race of the day, restricted to older fillies and mares and moved from the grass to the dirt after morning rains, Couric set the pace under Mena with splits of 23.93 and 47.50 before accomplishing the mile and 70-yard final distance in over sloppy going in 1:45.55.   Trained by Wes Hawley, the daughter of Arch returned mutuels of $11.40, $5.60 and $3.20 and increased her career earnings to $68,389 with her fourth win in 11 lifetime starts.

Coteau Grove Farms’ Harlie’s Dreams finished second, returning $2.80 and $2.20, while finishing a neck to the good of Cudney Stables and John Gunther’s Eye to Victory, who paid $4 in the show position.

Racing resumes Saturday at Fair Grounds with a 12-race program beginning at 12:40 p.m.