02/18/2005 12:00AM

Cancer can't stop trainer

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One of the great things about racing is what it gives back to the people who devote their lives to it. There may be no better example than Dave MacLean.

MacLean recently returned to Kentucky for what he sadly concedes might be one final hurrah. MacLean, who began training horses in 1986 and who for six years in the 1990's was the private trainer for the powerful Richard Duchossois stable in Illinois, is suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer.

"I just want to finish doing what I love doing," said MacLean, 48.

MacLean has three horses in his care at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. His first starter of the meet, Kata Tjuta, finished third in the fourth race Wednesday night. Although he has been semi-active as a trainer in recent years in Canada - his wife and two teenage sons live in the Toronto suburb of Orangeville, Ontario - he said he was led to Turfway because the Midwestern U.S. is "where I always seemed to do the best."

He might make future stops at the Keeneland meet in April and the Arlington Park meet, which begins in May.

"The doctors have given me 'X' amount of time to do what I need to do," said MacLean. "And it didn't seem like anyone in Canada was going to give me anything I would enjoy working with."

Then, using a self-deprecating humor, MacLean added: "So I thought that maybe, just maybe, somebody down here would make a mistake and give me a good horse to train. I was hoping to maybe open a few eyes, show people the fun I've always had in the game, and try to go out on a good note."

MacLean's career record consists of 1,016 starts and 140 wins (including 10 stakes wins) and earnings of nearly $3.28 million. But perhaps his greatest impact in racing has come with people.

"I've always loved the game, and it's always been good to me," said MacLean. "The people I've met and gotten to know along the way, I wouldn't trade my experiences with them for anything in the world. It's been fun and rewarding beyond words. It's why I've chosen to stay with it as long as I can."

Besides his three active runners, MacLean said he also will have a 2-year-old filly by Albert the Great, who soon will be shipped to him from Florida.

"That's the one that's really got me keeping my fingers crossed," he said. "When you've got a horse like we think she might be, there's always hope."

Snack sold to California stable

Snack, the winner of three consecutive stakes at Hoosier Park and Turfway Park, has been privately acquired by Paul Reddam and will be transferred to leading California trainer Doug O'Neill.

The transaction was confirmed by the colt's current trainer, Michael Lauer, who bred and co-owns the 3-year-old by Afternoon Deelites. Reddam will hold a majority interest.

Snack has won half of his eight starts, and is in the best form of his career. He won the Indiana Futurity last year at Hoosier Park and two stakes at Turfway Park - the Prevue Stakes and the WEBN Frog Stakes over a mile on Feb. 5.

Snack is a candidate for the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on March 26.

Reddam has been actively buying stakes prospects in the last year. Last fall, he bought Wilko, who pulled an upset in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Lone Star Park, and Sharp Lisa, who won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 12.

New agent for Ignacio

Jockey agent Danny Gargan has returned from a two-month stay in south Florida to take the book of Rodolfo Ignacio. Through Thursday night, Ignacio was tied with Juan Molina Jr. for top apprentice at the winter-spring meet with 18 wins each; they are tied for third in the overall standings behind leader Dean Sarvis.

Ignacio had been a client of Sarvis's agent, Steve Elzey, but Elzey recently took on Orlando Mojica as his second rider.

* A Louisville radio show that focuses exclusively on racing, "Down the Stretch," began a 43-week run Feb. 5. Hosted by handicapper Don Knobel, the one-hour show features guests from the racing industry and can be heard every Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern on 790-AM.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen