07/29/2003 11:00PM

Actor-jockey Frazier back in saddle


Ricky Frazier will leap back into the real world Friday at Retama Park when he returns to competitive riding after working on two films: "Seabiscuit" and the upcoming "Spiderman 2."

Frazier spent five months as a stunt double for lead actor Tobey Maguire in "Seabiscuit," and also did some stunt work for "Spiderman 2." His return to Retama is something of a homecoming, as he has not ridden at the track since 1998, when he won the riding title. In recent years, Frazier has competed in northern California and Seattle.

"It's great to be back," said Frazier, 39. "One of the reasons I came here was that I wanted to be around people I enjoy."

The meet is a perfect fit for Frazier. In addition to being close to his family and friends - his sister and her family just moved back to Texas from Germany - the season ends about the same time he is expected to start work on a new film in Miami.

Frazier is compeleting details to choreograph three races and serve as a stunt coordinator on the low-budget film. It could begin shooting sometime in October.

For the rider, straddling the worlds of racing and film has been a joy. In the movie "Seabiscuit," one of the most vibrant scenes is the champ, under Frazier, racing through open fields. It took two weeks and four horses a day to shoot the scene.

"I felt like a little kid again when they cut me loose in that field," said Frazier.

Frazier said the scene was shot at Stony Oak Farm in Kentucky, once owned by Daniel Boone.

In addition to the field scenes, Frazier was a big part of the film's races as Maguire played Red Pollard, regular jockey on "Seabiscuit."

"The most difficult part was doing the actual race scenes," said Frazier. He said cameras, mounted on a moving contraption, were located just feet from the horses. The idea was to put moviegoers "into" a real race, and the work paid off as the scenes are a unique part of "Seabiscuit."

Frazier worked on the film from Oct. 4, 2002, to the end of February, and after "Seabiscuit" wrapped he did some stunt work on "Spiderman 2," but not with horses. He is part of a small scene, playing a bus boy in a deli. After that obligation, he turned his focus toward preparing for Retama.

But he still will be surrounded by the excitement of "Seabiscuit." As part of a promotion the track has with San Antonio-area Regal Cinema, there will be 3,000 "Seabiscuit" posters given away opening night at Retama.

Frazier's competition at the track will include newcomers Jeremy Beasley and Kerwin Clark, as well as regulars Ted Gondron, Weldon Cloninger, Alex Jimenez, Deirdre Panas, and Cathleen Garner.

Five straight for Pish?

The road to the training title at Retama tends to go through Danny Pish. He has won a record four consecutive titles at the track, which is located just 12 miles from his home in San Antonio.

Last meet, he won 46 races in 51 nights, and this meet, he is once again well stocked.

"I've got a comparable bunch of horses this year as to what I've brought into the meet the last couple of years," said Pish.

Pish, who has 60 horses in training divided between the track and two farms, said he feels the competition will be tougher this year, in part because of new stables like that of Jack Bruner's.

Bruner works as a private trainer for Tom Durant, who was the leading Thoroughbred owner at Retama in 1998. Also new to Retama with a sizable stable is Andrew Konkoly.

Some of Pish's top horses include Boots on Sunday, who is coming back from an injury and could run Oct. 4 in the $35,000 Longhorn Handicap, and stakes winner Agrivating General, whose objectives are the $50,000 Retama Turf Breeders' Cup on Aug. 9, and the $100,000 Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Stakes for statebreds on Oct. 4.

Other trainers with quality runners include Gerald Romero, one of the highest win-percentage trainers at the track, and Steve Asmussen, who is the nation's second-leading trainer in wins. Asmussen came back to Retama last year after a long absence to take advantage of the Texas-bred program, and won the track's richest race for older statebreds with Desert Darby.

* Retama's races are scheduled to be simulcast to New York OTB beginning Friday.