05/24/2001 12:00AM

Don't worry about Biamonte - he can carry the load


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Trainer Ralph Biamonte has assumed some added duties this year. Could his poor start this year be blamed on the extra load he is carrying? That seems unlikely, because Biamonte has always been a man of many hats.

Going into this weekend, Biamonte has just two wins from 40 starters - one at Fort Erie and one at Woodbine. Last year he had 21 wins from 106 starters at Woodbine and 11 from 55 at Fort Erie. Throughout the past decade, he often had a winning percentage in the high 20's, and has won several training titles at Fort Erie.

This year Biamonte became a director for the Ontario Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. He is also serving on the Fort Erie advisory board.

"It's my way of giving something back to the industry that's been good to me," he said. "With the blossoming purses and booming casino, there's a lot going on and a lot to do."

The extra duty is not likely to affect the 55-year-old Biamonte. In 1994 he was a full-time dentist with a thriving practice in Niagara Falls. Yet he was also the winningest trainer in Ontario, with 76 victories. Next in line was Bob Tiller, with 66.

For the past five years Biamonte had practiced dentistry just one day a week. In January he gave that up.

Biamonte says an earlier start than usual is the reason his runners haven't done as well as in the past. "I started April 23 last year," he said. "By that date this year I had already sent out 19. They should be popping soon."

Biamonte, like all trainers, has to have a reasonable number of starts to justify the number of stalls allotted him by the racing office. Biamonte said he has 22 stalls at Fort Erie and 20 at Woodbine. He has 54 horses this year and he has been keeping his babies at training centers.

And he has added a new client, Gerald Hannahs, who is from Little Rock, Ark., but is no stranger to Canada. Hannahs pitched for Quebec City in the Class AA Eastern League in 1976 and 1977. After winning 20 games in 1977, he was brought up to the Montreal Expos and won both his starts. The following year he was credited with the Expos's first win in the new Olympic Stadium. His baseball career ended in 1980.

Hannahs, now an investor, has sent two runners from New York - Amazing Silver and Love That Silver - to Biamonte. He also bought a runner, Make Mine Rosie, from the trainer. "He couldn't wait to compete here," said Biamonte. "He's on the Internet a lot and taps in on Canadian racing. He thinks it's great."

Lauzon returns home

Jockey Jack Lauzon has moved his tack from Woodbine to Fort Erie. A two-time Queen's Plate-winning rider, Lauzon has more than 1,300 career victories and purse earnings approaching $25 million.

After breaking his neck in a 1996 spill while riding in Macau, near Hong Kong, Lauzon was sidelined until 1999, when he won 42 races and had $1.1 million in purse earnings.

Last year, he had 25 wins and again surpassed $1 million in earnings. An eye injury and then an operation ended his season in October.

The decision to move wasn't too painful for Lauzon, a 39-year-old native of Welland, who is named on four mounts on Saturday's card. "My home is here," he said. "My wife and son are here. And it's so relaxing here. I love it."