02/20/2006 12:00AM

Circuit switch good move for Hofmans

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About a year and a half ago, Grant Hofmans moved from Southern California to Kentucky with the hopes of faring better in the horse business. Discouraged by the prevailing trends of short fields and the high costs of conducting business on his home circuit, he was looking to attract more clients and win more races.

So far, so good. Last year, Hofmans had more starts (104) and wins (23) than ever in a training career during which he spent much of his time assisting his father, trainer David Hofmans, whose best runners have included such stars as Touch Gold, Alphabet Soup, and Adoration. Now with 25 horses under his care, most of them at the Trackside training center in Louisville, the younger Hofmans said he is glad he made the life-altering move.

"Even the weather is better than I first thought it would be," said Hofmans, 35. "With all the problems in the horse business back in California, I'm happy I made the move. It's been really positive."

Hofmans, who took out his first training license in 1995, will be at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., on Wednesday night to saddle K'ehleyr, the likely favorite in the feature race, a $25,500 first-level allowance at one mile.

K'ehleyr, owned by Green Lantern Stables, was sent to Hofmans by trainer Jenine Sahadi.

"The thought was that maybe we could get the mare through a condition or two here," said Hofmans.

Still, K'ehleyr, a 5-year-old Rahy mare, has struggled to break through, although she more than keeps paying her way. Although she has won just once, she has finished second eight times and third four times, for earnings of $120,260 from 19 career starts. She has raced three times for Hofmans since being sent to him last fall, registering two seconds and a third, all at Turfway.

"It's hard to get frustrated with her because she tries hard every time," said Hofmans. "That's all you can ask. Hopefully she'll get over the hump soon. She's doing good and running good, so we'll keep trying her as long as she stays that way."

Hofmans has enlisted Turfway's runaway leading jockey, apprentice Julien Leparoux, to ride K'ehleyr, who will start from post 5 in a field of 10 fillies and mares. Valor Within, Truly Ruby, and Campionessa appear to be her main rivals.

The feature is the eighth of nine races on a twilight card that starts at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.