Updated on 09/16/2011 7:20AM

All going as planned for Agosti


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Tom Agosti entered the new Fort Erie season with just five wins in 85 starts from the winter and early spring.

Usually a noted high-percentage trainer, Agosti's 6 percent win average gives the impression that he is floundering. At a similar time last year, Agosti, 44, left the winter meet at Tampa Bay Downs with a hefty win percentage of 24, having scored 10 times in 42 attempts.

Agosti, however, seems very content with his recent achievement. It was his game plan.

"Last year we went to Tampa Bay with seven horses with the intentions of just racing," he said. "This year we decided that because we had so many horses, that it was going to be more of a working vacation for them. Because Tampa goes for very little money compared to here, we were more worried about here than there."

Training in Florida tended to be more lackadaisical, he added.

"The horses were turned out for a day or two - trained a little and worked a little," said Agosti, a native of Kenmore, N.Y., who turned to Thoroughbreds in 1993 after training Standardbreds for 17 years, mainly at Buffalo Raceway.

"The work schedule was nowhere near what it would have been here. Now we've really been putting work into them."

And the Agosti runners have responded to the heightened conditioning. Four have triumphed in the last week, including one at Woodbine.

Agosti finished fourth in the standings last year with 30 wins. It was a climb from ninth the previous year, when he scored 19 times.

Tuttle: Success means fewer friends

Chris Tuttle, who tops the trainer standings with seven wins, continues his astonishing ascent to head of the class.

This is only the third year that the 26-year-old Tuttle has been a full-fledged trainer. Last year he finished second with 60 wins, 13 behind perennial leader Layne Giliforte. In his rookie year he was third, 55 behind the record 89 set by Giliforte.

Tuttle took most of the winter off. He did race at Finger Lakes in New York, however, after the Fort Erie season ended (Nov. 13) through mid-December. Again he performed remarkably, chalking up 16 wins in 39 starts.

Tuttle says that he is paying a price for his success.

"When you succeed you have fewer friends," he said. "I walk through a barn area and I get dirty looks. A couple of years ago it was no big deal. I was considered harmless. Now they worry I might claim one of their horses, or else tell somebody else about them. It seems there's a lot of jealousy."

* Jockey Helen Vanek, a strong member of the Fort Erie colony for four years, moved her tack to Delaware Park recently. The 25-year-old Vanek won the riding title with 68 wins at Fort Erie in 1998 while she was an apprentice. She didn't have a bad start at her new setting, as she won with her second mount.