08/24/2005 11:00PM

Eleven set to go 1 1/4 miles, with Attonotauto in the mix

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Tom Gostlin, Fort Erie's racing secretary, was pleasantly shocked at the response to the 1 1/4-mile race he wrote for Saturday.

The longest race carded this year to date, the race drew 11 horses.

"It's encouraging to see something that distance go," said Gostlin. "It's the Derby distance - classic racing. We usually try and write some long races for horses that are headed for the Tour de Fort."

The Tour de Fort, at two miles and 70 yards, is the longest race run in Ontario. It is traditionally carded on the last weekend of the meet. The season ends Nov. 1 this year.

The winner of last year's marathon, Attonotauto, is in Saturday's long contest despite having run just last Saturday.

"You don't get too many opportunities for these," said Attonotauto's owner and trainer, Daryl Ezra. "I don't think they run enough of them."

Ezra believes it is easier on a horse to run long than to run short.

"Top sprinters don't have long careers," he said. "Speed and weight are hard on them. And they are asked all the time. At a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half you run the last little part - most of it is just a gallop."

Beckon increases lead among riders

With four wins on Tuesday, apprentice Chad Beckon totaled 64 victories, stretching his lead atop the jockey standings to 17.

"It was my first four wins in one day," said Beckon. "But I'll never forget opening day."

On opening day, Beckon won races number 1, 2, and 3. It was the first of three hat tricks he has scored.

Beckon was in a bit of a slump before Sunday. He had been winless for six straight racing days, starting Aug. 8 at the Fort. One of his two wins Sunday was aboard Decadent Dash, owned and trained by Pierre Crete, in the Fort Erie Slots Cup.

Crete had provided Beckon a winner during his losing streak here. It was Chain, who tallied Wednesday, Aug. 10, at Woodbine.

In a tie for second in the rider standings are Neil Poznansky and the sidelined Francine Villeneuve, with 47 each. Poznansky, last year's top rider, got a lift with a hat trick on Monday.

Fournier gets boost from Schickedanz

Bruno Schickedanz, who has been the leading owner at Fort Erie for the past eight years, sent seven horses to Mark Fournier recently.

Fournier, 34, in his fourth year as a trainer, now has 15 runners in his barn. His best runner has been Major Zee, 12, who failed last Sunday to become a repeat winner in the Parnitha Cup. He finished fifth to Wire Editor.

"The grass had more give than usual, and Major Zee just didn't handle the softer footing," said Fournier. "He came back fine."

Orientalspringhope wins a stakes at 9

Orientalspringhope toppled the odds-on favorite, Roman Romance, in the Golden Horseshoe Cup Aug. 14.

Trainer Dan Wills plans to race the 9-year-old Orientalspringhope, a winner of 9 of her 56 starts, in the Centre Stage Anne Cup Sept. 5.

"It was Orientalspringhope's first stakes win," said Wills. "I'd been trying to win a stakes with her for the last six years. And she's been, probably, stakes placed in every in-house stakes we've got here for the fillies.

"She's been beat a head, beat a neck. She's been second, and she's been third - many times."