05/15/2008 11:00PM

Apprentice makes fast break from the gate


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Apprentice jockey Stephanie Fedora is pleased with the start she has gotten off to at Hastings. Fedora, who began her career riding Quarter Horses at Ajax Downs in Ajax, Ontario, arrived at Hastings a week before the current meet started. Fedora wasn't expecting to get many mounts right off the bat, but her business has been steadily growing, and she won the first race at Hastings last Sunday aboard Include the Grand for trainer David Milburn.

"People here have been very supportive," said Fedora. "I didn't expect things to pick up as quickly as they have. I definitely have no complaints."

Not surprisingly, Milburn thinks Fedora has a bright future here.

"The other horse she rode for me, Trinidad Bay, finished second at 16-1," said Milburn. "I didn't think he was going to run nearly as well as he did. Horses seem to run for her, and she is also very professional. She came to the barn the day before the race to ask about the horse. It was nice to have more time to talk about the race than the few moments we usually get with the jockey in the paddock."

Fedora's first win aboard a Thoroughbred was on Queen's Plate Day at Woodbine last June. She ended up winning six races at the meet. Typically, she spent a good part of her youth riding jumpers and show horses before gravitating to the racetrack.

"I started riding when I was 5 years old," she said. "Hunter-jumpers, show horses, and I also did some barrel racing. I just had a lot of fun with all of it."

Riding on a mile track is a lot different experience than finding your way around a bullring like Hastings. Fedora thinks the lessons she learned riding Quarter Horses will help her make a smooth transition to riding on the smaller oval.

"Of course it's a bit of an adjustment coming from a flat-mile track like Woodbine to a five-furlong one like Hastings," she said. "At Ajax they taught me how to get out of the gate quickly, and I think that has helped me a lot here. It's very important to get into a good position heading into the first turn, and getting them out of the gate quickly certainly helps in that regard. The whole experience with the Quarter Horses has really been a big help in making the transition to the smaller track."

Due to necessity, Fedora, 25, also learned how to go around the tight turn at Ajax. She said the turns at Hastings are much easier to handle than the only turn at Ajax.

"We didn't actually race around a turn because it's not a full track yet," she said. "If you couldn't get your horse to hug the hairpin turn when you were pulling them up just past the finish line, you would end up on the highway. They have slots now and they are in the process of turning it into a five-furlong track."

It was probably an easy decision for Fedora to leave Woodbine to try her luck at Hastings. After all, the Woodbine jockey colony is very deep, and there are plenty of apprentices trying to break in there. At Hastings she is one of just two apprentices, although there could be three soon - Jayson Rodriguez is scheduled to arrive from Panama sometime this week. The surrounding geography also had a lot to do with Fedora's move to the west coast.

"I love being outdoors, and this is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to," she said. "Just coming to the track and going for a walk is pretty special. You're looking at the mountains and the ocean. It's pretty spectacular. Don't get me wrong, I love home, but this is tough to beat."

Krazy Koffee still a little green

Trainer Cindy Krasner isn't quite sure what she has on her hands with Krazy Koffee. A homebred gelding owned by Butch Goertzen, Krazy Koffee figures to be one of the favorites in the $50,000 Jim Coleman Province on Sunday.

Krazy Koffee has won his last two starts, and he was impressive when he finished full of run to draw away from Tiger Heat in an optional claiming race on May 4.

"There is a lot of talent there, and a lot of talent that hasn't come out," said Krasner. "He doesn't really know what he's doing yet. He is just like a big dumb oaf and it seems like he never really learns anything. He could be a real nice horse if he ever puts it all together."

Krasner is having a strong meet, with three wins from her first 12 starters. Only twice have horses trained by her finished out of the top three.

"I hope it continues," said Krasner. "I have a lot of horses with conditions, and those are the kind of horses that win a lot of races."

* Holy Nova came out of her easy win in the $51,826 Brighouse Belles at 6 1/2 furlongs last Saturday in good shape, and according to her trainer, Troy Taylor, she will make her next start in the Senate Appointee Stakes on May 31. Unless a strong rival ships in from out of town, Holy Nova will be a prohibitive favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong Senate Appointee.