12/06/2006 1:00AM

Embattled Husbands calls it quits this meetP


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Jockey Patrick Husbands took off his mounts Wednesday night and will not ride here at Woodbine again this year.

"Mr. Husbands submitted a letter to the stewards today, asking to be released from his riding commitments for the last five days of the meet," said Brent Stone, supervisor of Thoroughbred racing for the Ontario Racing Commission, on Wednesday. "Obviously, it relates to the situation surrounding him and Constant Montpellier. I really can't say anything much more than that."

Montpellier's agent, Greg Broadhurst, confirmed that Montpellier had filed assault charges against Husbands related to a jockeys' room altercation before the fourth race here Nov. 11.

A spokesman for 23 Division, the Toronto Police Service branch that is handling the investigation, deferred comment to the officer in charge of the case, who was not available Wednesday.

Husbands was suspended for 60 calendar days after the stewards found that he had used his helmet as a weapon during the incident.

Montpellier had attempted to retaliate while the horses were galloping out following the race and was banned for 150 calendar days after the stewards found he had deliberately endangered the safety and welfare of other riders.

The suspensions were scheduled to begin Nov. 20, but both Husbands and Montpellier appealed and were granted a stay of the ruling on Nov. 22, the first racing day that week.

Husbands continued to ride, but Montpellier, who was diagnosed as having a concussion several days after the incident, has not ridden since.

Husbands will finish as the second-leading rider at the meeting, with 124 winners, and was the leader in money won heading into Wednesday's card with $7.18 million.

Montpellier finished with 50 wins and $2.85 million in purse money.

Fehr and Centennial Farms on a roll

Trainer Alec Fehr appeared to have his work cut out for him this spring when he returned to being a public trainer after serving for the previous four years as private trainer for Knob Hill Stable.

But fortune has smiled on Fehr, who has forged a new alliance with a partnership that now goes by the name of Centennial Farms Niagara.

"Things are looking very bright," said Fehr, 39, who has been a licensed trainer since 1994.

Dominic Dilalla, George Zimakis, and Mario Formica are the names behind Centennial Farms Niagara, and they didn't take long to experience the upside of the racing game.

Their first starter was Colorful Judgement, who was claimed by Fehr for $60,000 on July 9 and came back to win the $75,000 With Approval Stakes here five weeks later.

On Sunday, Colorful Judgement will be looking for a second stakes win for his new owners, in the $125,000 Valedictory Handicap, a 1 3/4-mile race that is the traditional closing-day feature of the Woodbine meeting.

Colorful Judgement goes into the Valedictory off a second-place finish, 5o3/4 lengths behind Last Answer, in a 1 1/2-mile allowance prep here Nov. 12.

"We were in the one hole, which was good. We saved ground on the first turn and on the second turn," said Fehr. "But when it came time to get out, he was stuck on the rail.

"He did a lot of running from the quarter pole home."

Meanwhile, Centennial Farms Niagara is striding steadily toward becoming a presence here.

"They've spent about $1 million this year, and their plan is to do that or more every year," said Fehr.

This year's investments included three yearlings at the local select sale and another two at Keeneland.

"We're going to focus on getting quality yearlings, but keep the racing alive with claimers," said Fehr. "We've claimed quite a few.

"They're new, and they're willing to play the game as it's supposed to be played with these claimers. We want to win races. You have to be flexible, doing that.

"When you win you make money, regardless of whether you have to drop your horses," he added. "If you're lucky, you can bring them up."

Fehr cites Getaway Candidate as an example of that philosophy.

A 4-year-old gelding who was claimed for $20,000 on Aug. 18, Getaway Candidate dropped to the $10,000 level in his third start for his new interests and won convincingly.

Since then, Getaway Candidate has been unstoppable, winning for prices of $11,500 and $16,000.

"Now, he's a monster," said Fehr. "His Beyer [Speed Figures] are great. His confidence is high. He's earned more than double his claiming price."

Getaway Candidate will look to extend his streak here in Saturday's $73,500 feature. He is entered for a $60,000 tag in the optional claiming race at 1 1/4 miles.

Other successful claims for Fehr and Centennial are Moonshine Justice, a 4-year-old taken for $50,000 on Nov. 1, and Tall Cool One, acquired for $20,000 on Nov. 12.

Moonshine Justice won his first start for his new interests when sporting a $62,500 tag in a second-level allowance and optional claimer, and then came back to finish fourth in last Sunday's $125,400 Sir Barton.

"He came back with a hole in his frog in his left front," said Fehr. "He was a little tender on it. He must have stepped on something somewhere. We'll take him home, geld him, and see what we've got next year."

Tall Cool One, a 5-year-old gelding, won for a $37,500 claiming price in his debut for Fehr and Centennial here last Friday.

"He was a bit of a surprise to everybody," said Fehr. "It was not my intention to run him in that race; the $25,000 didn't fill up, so I just put him in there.

"He ran huge. He got a great trip; Corey Fraser rode him very well."

Imperial Commander is Fehr's latest

Fehr had a 10-10-6 record from 46 starters, for purse winnings of $345,689, heading into the last week of the meeting, with his most recent success coming via Imperial Commander in last Sunday's 10th race.

Imperial Commander, owned by Manuel Gonzalez and Milan Shah, won a $10,000 claimer for nonwinners of three and has a record of 2-6-2 from 12 outings this season.

Pellegrino works for Valedictory

Pellegrino, a 7-year-old horse trained by Roger Attfield, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 Wednesday morning in preparation for the Valedictory.

Exercise rider Suzanne Lorimer was aboard Pellegrino, who is owned by Gary Tanaka.

Attfield will be looking for his fifth win in the Valedictory, the most recent having come with A Fleets Dancer here in 2000.

The Attfield-trained Bodmin Moor, Steady Power, and Take Account won consecutive runnings of the Valedictory, beginning in 1987, when the race was run at Greenwood.