12/03/2002 1:00AM

Elordi thankful for turnaround


ALBANY, Calif. - "I'd rather be lucky than good" is one of the oldest lines in sports.

Just ask trainer Donna Elordi, who hopes to saddle her fourth straight winner Thursday at Golden Gate when she sends out Shapiro's Hero in the fifth race. The $8,000 maiden claimer at six furlongs drew a full field of 12, plus four on the also-eligible list.

Elordi has 11 wins from 108 starts this year but is 2 for 11 at Golden Gate, with a pair of seconds and a pair of thirds.

Things turned around for her on Thanksgiving Day when Carte Madera held on to win by a nose in a one-mile maiden turf race, in which stablemate Gabby Dancer ran third. Crystal Colony rallied to win by a head in the next race, producing an Elordi-trained daily double worth $207.40.

Elordi's luck carried over to Friday when she saddled Jimmy Z for Ron McAnally in the Forty-Niner Handicap and he won for the first time since September of 2000.

"It was a happy Thanksgiving," Elordi said. "We finally got some racing luck."

Many handicappers will view a 10 percent connect rate as the line of demarcation for a trainer's ability.

Elordi meets that criterion, and her two Thanksgiving winners show the role luck does play.

Carte Madera was making her ninth start of the year and fourth on turf. The 3-year-old filly had one second and three third-place finishes in her previous eight starts. She went wire to wire, holding off co-favorite Ms Erica, and paid $13.20.

Carte Madera had shown turf ability last winter at Golden Gate. She took the lead in the stretch of her turf debut and wound up losing by only 2 3/4 lengths despite finishing seventh. She ran fourth and third on the turf in her past two starts at Bay Meadows.

Crystal Colony, a 3-year-old colt, was 0 for 8 in Elordi's barn but had four third-place finishes and had earned a check in seven starts.

He comes from off the pace and is the type of horse that always needs luck to reach the winner's circle.

Last Thursday, his strong kick got him to the wire a head in front of longshot Ft. Washington in a $12,500 claimer. He returned $30.

Elordi is no different than any other trainer. She wants to win, and she admits she feels a certain level of frustration coming close so often without winning.

"Things have to go your way in this business, especially in a smaller stable like mine where you always seem to be running your horses one step above where they belong," Elordi said. "That makes it a little tough.

"But I think you make your own luck, and I try not to change. You do what works for you. If you do what works, it will turn out."