11/08/2002 12:00AM

Berry's a Smoking helps Jones keep chin up


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Aside from saddling Malcoha, a 10-year-old gelding, to three consecutive wins in the summer, Wilf Jones

hasn't had too much to cheer about this year.

Going into the final four days of the meet the trainer had recorded just six wins from 53 starts, a far cry from 2000 when he won 24 times in 92 starts and reached fifth place in the standings here.

Jones, a 51-year-old native of Britain, did most of his growing up in Australia, where he entered horse racing. He resides in Ocala, Fla., on a 10-acre farm. But he ships north each spring to race here.

"Sometimes this game will bring you to your knees," said Jones, after he related misfortune after misfortune that befell him this year. "But it's little things that keep you coming back"

One of the little things that is encouraging Jones is his surprise win last Sunday with Berry's a Smoking, a 4-year-old colt who paid a meeting-high of $162.90 for his maiden score. It was the fourth start for the runner, who debuted Aug. 28.

Berry's a Smoking, Jones said, "is obscurely bred and is a failed show jumper that my friends, who were partners with me in a couple of horses, asked me to try and train. Though I thought it would be a waste of time and money, I gave it a shot."

Jones also heaped praise on Regina Sealock for her winning ride.

"He got a tremendous ride - one of the best I've seen here in a long, long time," he said. "She saved ground on both turns. I had told her he probably couldn't run more than a quarter-mile flat-out. She let him do just that. It was a fine ride on an ordinary horse.

Four other horses have paid off at $100 or more here this season: No Vacancy ($148.50), Meet in Miami ($127.20), Christopher's Fire ($117.80), and Classic Romance ($100).

Sealock, second to Francine Villeneuve as Canada's all-time winningest female jockey, also was aboard Meet in Miami.

Rombis barn picking up pace

Trainer Debbie Rombis has been very productive in the last four weeks, picking up nine wins to add to her previous 14. Her 23 scores placed her in a seventh-place tie in the trainer standings heading into the final weekend. She credits much of the success to jockey David Piques, who started to ride regularly for her during the spell. Rombis, 37, got into racing when working summers at Woodbine while going to high school. Her first employer was trainer Laurie Silvera.

Last year, she won 14 races from 123 starts.

Roche Rock bags win number 10

Last Sunday, Roche Rock, an 11-year-old gelding, won his first race of 2002. He now has 10 lifetime scores.

Roche Rock has been sent to the farm and will return for another season.

"Roche Rock is a happy dude," said trainer Mycke Neubauer, who added that jockey Frank Todd "told me he ran like a 3-year-old. It was awesome. He ran good races all year - he just had some bad luck."

* Patricia Trimble could be labeled "queen of the quarter-mile riders" here. There have been 14 two-furlong events contested at this meet and, remarkably, she was aboard eight of the winners. Trimble was second twice and third once from her other three starts at the distance. She was the regular rider for both Ten Rebels and Pembroke Hall, each of whom won three dashes.