01/21/2008 1:00AM

Casey Doon goes for hot barn


For many Northern-based trainers, winter means it's time to send their better horses to warmer climates and give much of their stock some time off. In Maryland, however, it's business as usual for Ben Feliciano Jr.

"I'm mostly a claiming trainer," Feliciano said. "I don't stop claiming horses in the winter. I'll claim even more when new outfits come into town. It gives me a chance to go after some new horses. But I'm not really doing anything different at this time of year."

In Feliciano's case, that's good, because he has done some of his best work during Laurel Park's winter meet.

Since January 2006, Feliciano has posted a record of 44 for 136 at Laurel's winter meets, a 32 percent success rate with returns per $2 investment of $2.92 and $2.31 in 2006 and 2007.

So far this month, Feliciano is doing even better. Since Jan. 1, he's 7 for 12 with a $4.65 ROI. Feliciano stands second in the Laurel trainer standings, two wins behind Scott Lake, who has run three times as many horses.

Feliciano, 43, who obtained his trainer's license at 19 in March 1984 after riding 25 winners as an apprentice jockey, hopes to continue his January hot streak in Wedneday's seventh-race feature at Laurel, a six-furlong sprint for third-level allowance runners and $32,000 claimers.

He will saddle Casey Doon, a 4-year-old gelding whose claim to fame came last Nov. 28 when he became the 3,000th career winner for jockey Travis Dunkelberger.

Casey Doon, who has been freshened since that performance, had a reputation early in his career of often coming close but settling for second.

"He'd always look like he was going to win and he wouldn't," said Feliciano, referring to Casey Doon's record of 3 wins and 7 seconds in 18 career starts. "He's learning how to run now, and I think he could be the kind of horse who has his best season at 4 or 5."

Wednesday's field of eight older sprinters also includes the 10-year-old Spooky Mulder, who has compiled 31 wins and earned $893,238 in his long career. He's one of three in the field who will run for the optional $32,000 claiming tag.

The 7-year-old gelding Musician's Pride also runs for a tag. He has been at least second in 8 of 11 starts at Laurel and comes off a 2 1/4-length win and a career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure over the same class of horses he faces on Wednesday.