11/28/2002 1:00AM

At 76, Bischoff finding success as trainer


PORTLAND, Ore. - Eulia Bischoff got a late start training horses, but she is making up for lost time.

Bischoff, 76, saddled just two horses last weekend - Tea Basket and Our Sleep Robber. But both of them won, giving Bischoff 9 wins from 21 starters at the meeting, for a gaudy 43 percent success rate.

Bischoff had a creditable 6 wins from 44 starters at last season's abbreviated meeting, then she posted another 6 wins from 43 starters at the tough Emerald Downs meeting last summer. Nevertheless, she has never had the kind of success she is enjoying now.

"I really have to give a lot of the credit to my two guys," she said, referring to assistant trainer G.D. Khalsa and groom Jerry Grier. "They really do an excellent job for me, and I appreciate their work.

"The other thing is that I think I learned a lot at Emerald last summer. It was the first time I had actually stabled up there, and I got to see how they do it in the big town. I have to learn as much as I can, because I didn't know that much when I started out."

Bischoff rode pleasure horses when she was younger and later raced a few Quarter Horses with trainer Larry Wheeler. She didn't think of training horses until she took an early retirement from her longtime position as administrative secretary for the Springfield Utilities Board in 1979.

"My children had grown up and moved away by that time, so I needed something to do," she said. "I ended up buying a couple of Thoroughbreds and took them to the bush tracks in Union and Lakeview, and that was when I started training. I eventually graduated to Portland Meadows and picked up some great owners, and that was when it really started to be fun. I've had a lot more fun training horses than I ever had in my old job, so I plan to keep at it."

Bischoff's current stable star is the 3-year-old Brass Halo, but she hopes that Hi Dixie will soon rival Brass Halo's status. Hi Dixie, a 2-year-old daughter of Dixieland Brass who races for Dave and Pam Wood of Medford, Ore., debuted with an even fourth-place effort against maidens on Nov. 16, but she will run back in Saturday's $10,000 Lassie Stakes at six furlongs.

"She was a little nervous for her first start, and didn't break well, but I really have high hopes for her," Bischoff said. "She is out of a young stakes-winning mare by Bertrando and she really looks and acts the part. I think she is going to be a nice horse, but we'll find out more on Saturday.

Doesn't mind if he does

Just about everybody else who nominated a filly for the Lassie was on the fence earlier in the week about running, in part because the race comes up only two weeks before the $10,000 Jane Driggers Debutante Stakes at six furlongs on Oregon-bred Day, Dec. 14.

Not trainer Roger Stevenson, however.

Stevenson said he will run Slew Falls, the third finisher in the recent Janet Wineberg Stakes, in order to prepare her to take on the boys in the $25,015 Oregon Futurity at a mile on Oregon-bred Day.

"The boys haven't run any faster than the girls so far, and my horse wants to go long," Stevenson said. "Her brother, Fit to Bet, won the Futurity last year, and there is a lot more money up for grabs in the Futurity than in the Jane Driggers. I can't think of anybody I'd rather see win it than me."

The hook can wait

Trainer Jimmy Glenn said that In Search of Fame, who won for the 18th time in 20 starts at Portland Meadows in last Saturday's Columbia River Handicap for older Quarter Horses, will likely make his first start at 870 yards at this meeting.

"We'd like to try him around the hook, and there are two ways we could go," he said. "We could run him in the Candy Cane Handicap on Oregon-bred Day, or we could keep sprinting him for now and wait for the Mayor's Cup at the end of the meeting. I'm inclined to wait, myself, because you can confuse a horse when you keep switching distances and that's a good way to get him beat. He's one in a million, and I hate to make it harder for him than it needs to be."