06/23/2001 12:00AM

Alert start could be all Castlebrook needs to win


MIAMI - Trainers are usually quick to come up with any number of reasons to explain why one of their horses might have turned in a disappointing race. So it was refreshing to hear Bill Kaplan's explanation for Castlebrook's sixth-place finish as the 8-5 second choice in the June 4 Hurricane Viv Stakes at Calder.

"I have no excuse," said Kaplan when asked why Castlebrook was beaten a dozen lengths. "I just hope and expect she'll run better on Monday."

Kaplan was referring to Monday's $32,510 Miss Jealski Handicap, a one-mile overnight handicap for fillies and mares in which Castlebrook should again be one of the favorites.

Actually Castlebrook may have had a bit of an excuse in the Hurricane Viv, a somewhat slow start, which cost her any chance of getting to her favorite position on or near the lead.

"Rosemary [Homeister] said she was a bit antsy in the gate and she kind of missed the break," said Kaplan. "Hopefully she'll break sharper and be right there all the way on Monday."

Castlebrook posted wire-to-wire victories in the Seaquay and Sambacarioca handicaps here last season. She is seeking her first win in six tries in 2001. Homeister has the return call.

Cash's Pride, a late-running second behind odds-on Gold for My Gal in the Hurricane Viv, figures to be a slight favorite in the Miss Jealski under Abdiel Toribio.

Jelly Fish, Dinner Pardner, Raponera, Coolbythepool, Laurel Light, and No Mo Strawberries round out the lineup.

Pitching in to help

Veteran trainer Ron Gaffney will be sidelined from six to eight weeks due to an injured bladder suffered when he was kicked while grazing a 3-year-old filly last Tuesday.

Gaffney and his wife, Emmy, who is the granddaughter of Hall of Fame trainer James Rowe Sr., do all the work involved with running their five-horse stable themselves.

In Gaffney's absence many backstretch workers have offered their help and support to get the couple through the next two months. Among those who have already pitched in doing various chores around the barn are Lisa Camac, Vivian Hemmerick, Karen Kubinec, Linca Bocca, and Shirley Catanese.