06/14/2001 12:00AM

Always a Dixie's trainer born for success


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Given her bloodlines, it's not surprising that trainer Barbara Heads, who has entered Always a Dixie in the Brighouse Belles Saturday, is having a successful year with the small stable she trains.

Heads is a daughter of Robert G. "Cy" Anderson, who was consistently among the leading trainers at Hastings Park in the 1970's and '80's. Robert Anderson led all trainers with wins here in 1976 and 1977 and tied with George Cummins for the title in 1984.

Barbara Anderson is also the sister of Robbie Anderson, who guided Travelling Victor to a Canadian horse of the year award in 1983 and currently is the trainer of King Jeremy, British Columbia's 2000 horse of the year. Her other brother Mike is also involved in racing as one of the outriders at Hastings Park.

"I learned from both my mom [June] and dad," said Heads. "Dad was a hands-on type of trainer. I learned a lot about leg work from him and the value of spending a lot of time underneath a horse. My mom was pretty much the driving force behind us. She kept everybody in line. Just growing up with them gave me a lot of practical experience."

Heads spent last winter in northern California, where she won seven races at Golden Gate Fields, and has continued her success at Hastings Park with three wins from 12 starts and 10 in-the-money finishes. "I had the right kind of horses for California," she said. "I had horses that had ability and conditions, so they could run in decent spots where the money was good."

Heads had some stable help accompany her to California. She's married to Hastings Park racing analyst and clocker Mike Heads. While Mike has spent plenty of time around the racetrack, working with horses was a new experience for him.

"He's a city boy," said Barb. "He grew up just a few blocks away from here and he's spent most of his time at the track watching and betting on horses. He's never really been around the horses but he really enjoyed working on the backstretch and he lost about 20 pounds with all of the hard work he put in. He also learned a lot about why a horse might run a bad race, and now instead of maybe blaming a jockey, he has a greater understanding of the many other possibilities for a poor performance."

It's also helpful for Barb to have someone like Mike to consult with about where she's going to run her horses. "I'll tell him where I'm thinking of going with a certain horse and he can tell me exactly who we'll be running against. That kind of information can be very useful."

Heads knows that Always a Dixie will have her hands full taking on Make Contact this Saturday but she feels that the lightly raced filly will improve at 1 1/16 miles.

"I've really been wanting to stretch her out," she said. "I really think that on the smaller track she'll be more comfortable going a distance. She's a big-striding filly and in both of her sprints up here she was the only one that could chase the speed, and that's not what she really wants to do."

And Mike's analysis of the race? "Well, Grooms Derby is going to get an easy lead but Make Contact is the best horse in the race and will be tough to beat. Talent-wise, Barb's filly is only a couple of lengths behind Make Contact at this point in her career and if she gets the perfect trip and Make Contact doesn't, she just might be able beat her."