04/10/2003 11:00PM

Consistency to jump into graded waters


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - For trainer Tom Proctor, the time to find out about Consistency is now.

Proctor has earmarked Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap on Easter Sunday, April 20, for Consistency's next appearance and stakes debut, even though he could have opted for an easier spot the previous afternoon.

"There's a three-other-than allowance race in the book for him on Saturday," Proctor said. "We talked about that race, but as long as the weights are right we'll go in the Skip Away and see where we're at. At the moment, all I know about this horse is that he's good enough to win a two-other-than."

In fact, Consistency has been more than good enough to win each of his three career starts. A son of Unbridled, Consistency launched his career with a nine-length victory here on Jan. 8, won his next start by nearly six lengths, then captured his two-turn debut by a widening 1 3/4 lengths on March 8.

"Each time everything's gone his way," said Proctor. "Of course, if you've got a horse that can run a little bit, things will generally go your way."

A field of seven or eight veteran stakes performers are expected for the Skip Away, including Best of the Rest, The Judge Sez Who, and possibly Keats, all graded stakes winners.

"Best of the Rest, with his experience, is the one to beat," said Proctor, who trains Consistency for his breeder, the Glen Hill Farm. "Right now, what my horse needs more than anything is experience, and it could be his lack of experience that will hurt him in this race."

Mark Guidry, who has ridden Consistency in each of his three previous races, will return from Kentucky to keep his regular seat in the Skip Away.

The Judge Sez Who, who was scratched from the Gulfstream Park Handicap after suffering a minor injury in his stall less than 48 hours before the race, breezed an easy mile in 1:49.60 at Calder on Friday.

Roger E., another of the 13 nominees for the Skip Away, worked a lively five furlongs in 1:00.40 the same morning at Gulfstream.

Late changes rile bettors

A late scratch in Thursday's eighth race and a rider change just before post time for Friday's second event had fans voicing their disapproval. The changes affected the favorites in both races and had a profound impact on exotic and daily double wagers.

Boone's Gold, thought by some to be the stronger half of the Mark Shuman-trained entry, was scratched by the track veterinarian just moments before the running of Thursday's eighth race, leaving entrymate Almost Magic to stand alone. Patrons were given approximately two minutes to exchange tickets in any of the live wagering pools. In that time, the entry went from 1-2 to even money, although pick three, pick four, and pick six players were left with only Almost Magic, who finished second behind the pacesetting Desirable Moment.

The incident was the second time in just over a week that the stronger half of a favored entry was scratched at the gate and the lesser half did not win.

The following afternoon, jockey Manny Cruz decided he was not going to ride Coal Inmy Stocking just moments before the scheduled start for Friday's second race. He was replaced by Manny Aguilar. Coal Inmy Stocking drifted up from 3-2 to 9-5 after the change was announced, broke several lengths behind the field, and finished fourth. That left all those alive in the double and pick threes with Coal Inmy Stocking with coal in their stockings.

Nelson out six weeks

Apprentice jockey Leroy Nelson tore the rotator cuff in his shoulder in a spill Wednesday and is expected to miss six weeks.

"It feels okay so far, but the doctor said to take six weeks off," said Nelson who went down aboard Sur Dixie in Wednesday's opener.

Nelson, a 10-pound apprentice, has won two races at the current meet.

* The mother of veteran Calder based trainer Angel Medina, Petra, died earlier this week.