09/20/2007 11:00PM

Credit Ezra with some shrewd purchases

EmailFORT ERIE, Ontario - Trainer Daryl Ezra has been working around Thoroughbreds for nearly 25 years, beginning as a hot walker, then a groom, and finally taking out his trainer's license in 1995.

On the other side of the tracks he has sold the Daily Racing Form, been a track announcer, and worked as a chart caller here at Fort Erie.

"It's my life," said Ezra. "I have enjoyed every year no matter what the role I was following, as long as it revolved around the Thoroughbred.

"Some years have been better than others, for sure, like the time we claimed Ashagio for $7,500 and she went on to win over $200,000.

"Or our claim of Prospective Gal, a filly we took for $16,000 and she went on to bank over $300,000."

Ezra went on to mention Speedstorm, claimed for $5,000, and Son Sarria, a $6,500 sales purchase.

Son Sarria has won four races this year, all consecutively at Woodbine. Speedstorm has three wins this year, one coming here and two at Woodbine.

Ezra has won 7 races this year from 33 starts at Woodbine and notes that a win there is far more lucrative than a score at Fort Erie, where he has recorded 11 wins and 41 in-the-money finishes from 83 starts.

Currently he has nine runners in the barn, a drop from 15 earlier in the year, but he is always searching for another good claim.

"My partner, Steve Chesney, and my brother Maury work with me on any claiming decisions," said Ezra.

"We look at every aspect of the horse in question and thoroughly study the Racing Form and then follow up with a review of the replays. It is a team effort and it has worked out very well."

Ezra has a wife, Michelle, who works at the barn, and they have four children.

Good friend and assistant trainer Ken Albu and his wife, Audrey, complete the barn staff, and former rider Lisa Hammett comes around for the morning workouts.

Ezra, as well as other horsemen, has expressed concern over the state of racing at Fort Erie. With slots revenue down and 20 fewer racing dates this year, there is uncertainty about next year's dates and purse structure.

"Rumors on the backside abound these days, and particularly so when the livelihood of many working here is at stake," said Ezra.

"It's the uncertainty that creates the rumor mill, and the sooner the future outcome of the Fort Erie track is settled, the sooner we can get our minds back to the business of racing."

Wake at Noon third in comeback

Wake at Noon, coming off a second shift at stud duty with racing action mixed in between, returned to the races here last Monday and added a small slice to his $1.6 million bankroll with a third-place finish.

Owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Mark Fournier, the 10-year-old Wake at Noon had his first start since December 2006.

Only four runners remained when the five-furlong race was switched from the turf to the dirt. Wake at Noon finished 4 1/4 lengths back of the winner, Trigone.

It should be noted that these same connections claimed the Prince of Wales winner Ablo for $10,000 from a last-place finish last Sunday. It will be interesting to see Ablo return after that lackluster effort.

First win for apprentice rider Giddings

Apprentice Melonie Giddings recorded her first win with a stalking trip behind a speed duel aboard the favored Blue Eyed Taylor in last Monday's fifth race.

Breaking from the 11-hole in the six-furlong sprint, Blue Eyed Taylor settled in behind the speed, angled out at the quarter pole, and was going away at the wire. The tall, slim rider was all smiles in the winner's circle as congratulations were the order of the day. She also received a friendly wetting down on her way back to the jocks' room to celebrate the occasion.