06/21/2007 11:00PM

Claim pays off quickly for Ezra


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Trainer Daryl Ezra struck quickly Tuesday with Awesome Dancing, a bottom-level claim he made seven days earlier.

"I claimed him for the series of marathon races that are a few months down the road," Ezra said of the long-winded Awesome Dancing. "He's well-bred and I've always liked him."

Tuesday's surprise win ($14) came at one mile and 70 yards, a distance shorter than Awesome Dancing's best.

"He was a horse that raced about every six weeks," Ezra said. "I ran him back in a week to sharpen his speed. And, I shed the blinkers and trained him a little differently."

The win was Ezra's first of the meet at the Fort. He had 20 previous starts.

"I had a lot of seconds (6) and a lot of thirds (3)," said Ezra, who had 12 wins at the 2006 meet while performing a dual role. He also was the race-caller here but gave it up to put more time into his barn.

"I do miss announcing; I enjoyed it," Ezra said. "For me, the real money is in training. I have to look after my family."

Meanwhile, Ezra been shipping some horses to Woodbine and has scored 5 times from 13 starts there.

The latest win was Wednesday when Son Sarria, 5, made it four in a row at the Toronto track. Ezra and client Stephen Chesney share ownership in the mare.

"We bought her at the mixed sales in December for $6,500," said Ezra, who twice had the track's horse of the year emerge from his barn - Lucky Tec and Ashagio. "You've got to get lucky."

Cooper gets off to slow start

Stacey Cooper, the Fort's third-leading trainer last year with 23 wins, has had a slow beginning this year.

Fast Approaching's win Tuesday was Cooper's first win of the year.

"We only have seven horses in the barn," assistant trainer Nick Mileni Jr. said. "We needed to go long, and it's tough to find the right spots when there is only two-day racing in May. We've only had four starts."

Fast Approaching was injured last August while running in the Peace Bridge Cup.

"We took it easy on him to bring him back this year," said Mileni of Fast Approaching, who won off by 5 3/4 lengths. "He seems to be very fit right now."

Gonzalez-Stronach stay perfect

Trainer Nick Gonzalez made it 3 for 3 with Frank Stronach runners at the meet.

Tap Show, 4, on Tuesday was their latest winner. Tap Show, who had won only one race before Tuesday, was making his first start of the year. It was an open allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on the turf that drew turf stars Get Down Wolfie and Pleasant Hall.

Tap Show "is a good one," Gonzalez said. "He has to be, to beat multiple winners like these. He's like a lot of Stronach runners - with maturity they are going to get a lot better."

On June 3, Stronach's National Hero broke the seven-furlong turf course record.

"We're bringing [National Hero] back July 3 for a five-furlong turf race, then run him in one of the Cup races," Gonzalez said.