08/12/2003 11:00PM

Eaton fights frustration in training two breeds


SAN MATEO, Calif. - The show payoff for Cal Flaming Gala didn't appear on the tote board Monday at the Bay Meadows Fair.

Five numeral payoffs don't fit.

But while fans were buzzing about the $146.60 return, trainer Terri Eaton had to be shaking her head in frustration once again. Her DWA Croix Blanche, the 3-5 favorite, had finished sixth to create the bonanza show payoff. Of the $12,094 wagered to show on the Arabian race, $10,809 was bet on DWA Croix Blanche.

She was moved up to fifth when the winner of the race, Betti Joe, was disqualified for bothering her into the stretch.

That's the way 2003 has been for Eaton, even though the year started nicely for her when she was given several nicely bred Thoroughbreds that had been running in the United Arab Emirates.

"The changes for them have been so tremendous," Eaton said. "They've had to go through unique changes such as muscle development. There are adjustments for them with climate, food, everything."

One of those horses, Spillikin, ran last Sunday in a one-mile maiden race on the turf. The 4-year-old colt actually debuted as a 2-year-old at Del Mar for Eoin Harty, then ran second at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet in his second start.

He ran twice in the UAE as a 3-year-old before joining Eaton's stable in Pleasanton this spring. He was third after breaking slowly and rallying late in his debut for her at Pleasanton, but has finished far back in two races since.

Though Eaton is only 3 for 87 with Thoroughbreds this year, she has enjoyed more success with Arabians such as DWA Croix Blanche, who had a win and two seconds in her three starts before Monday's race.

"Arabians aren't athletes like Thoroughbreds," she said. "They aren't as powerful, and they're very temperamental. Sometimes they're very frustrating."

And that is something Eaton understands all too well.

New voice at the fair

Aaron Vercruysse, a 29-year-old graduate of the University of Arizona's equine program, called his first official races Wednesday and Thursday. Vercruysse, who works for Magna at Santa Anita, was given a chance to fulfill a lifetime dream by calling two races each day.

"I was a backup at Tucson Greyhound Park while at the U. of A.," he said. "The dog people didn't like me because I called names and not numbers, but I wanted to call horse races."

* Eight $25,000 claimers will sprint in Friday's six-furlong feature. Stablemates Barron H and Goodnews Bay head the field, which also includes Tiger Slew and Gaelic Hope.