07/31/2001 11:00PM

Englander's time to shine

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Day after day, at racetracks throughout the United States, racehorses owned by Richard Englander compete amid little fanfare. That's partly because of the sheer volume of his stable, but mostly because most of Englander's horses compete in the claiming ranks.

This routine yet understandable oversight is why the Claiming Crown, which will be run for the third time Saturday at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., is a great gig for an owner such as Englander. Modeled after Breeders' Cup-type programs, the Claiming Crown and Englander are a perfect fit.

Canterbury officials again are taking considerable pride in promoting another visit to the Claiming Crown by Englander, many of whose top horses are trained by Scott Lake. Englander, 41, is the leading owner in North America in number of wins and earnings this year.

"Canterbury, we've been talking about it since last year," Englander said from Scarsdale, N.Y., earlier this week during an NTRA teleconference. "What a great time we had. We couldn't wait to come back."

Last year, Englander and Lake teamed for two winners in the Claiming Crown and narrowly missed a third. This year, from the six Claiming Crown races, Englander will be represented by four starters, two of whom are trained by Lake.

Englander, a stockbroker by trade, has more than 150 horses in training and employs 15 trainers. His stable has won about 230 races this year. As a young teen growing up in the Delaware Valley area, he developed a passion for racing, which manifested itself when he could finally afford it.

"It started as a hobby, but now it's a business," he said.

Englander, who employs two close friends full time to help him look after his far-flung stable, said he figures his stable can be profitable "if we have a 20 percent win rate and 50 percent in the money."

Like Englander atop the owner standings, Lake leads all trainers in wins this year.

"I think Scott Lake is the number one horseman in America," said Englander. "I mean, he's amazing. He manages 130 horses, he's got a phenomenal program, and he just does it better than everybody else does. I mean, I've got all the respect in the world for Scott."

Lake said he enjoys working for Englander because it's a lucrative opportunity and because "Rick's fantastic to deal with." Through last weekend, Lake had won more than 250 races, at a 29 percent clip. This year, he said, has been "a lot better than we ever dreamed it could be. I've got to give a lot of credit to my owners and especially to my help. Those guys, they'd lay down in front of a train for me and I'd do the same for them."

72 horses for six races

A total of 72 horses passed the entry box Wednesday for the six Claiming Crown races, which again offer a total of $550,000 in purses.

The richest race, the $150,000 Jewel, attracted the smallest field, with nine starters. Sing Because, a California invader stretching out from sprints to 1 1/8 miles for Englander and trainer Nick Canani, is one of the serious contenders in a well-matched group.

The $125,000 Emerald (12 entered) is the only race without an Englander or Lake starter. Dignitas Dancer and Clever Actor are the morning-line favorites.

Englander and Lake team together in the $100,000 Rapid Transit, 13 entered, with the probable favorite, Sonofaqueen, a six-time winner this year.

Englander, with Lady Di Huntley, and Lake, with French Teacher, oppose each other in the $75,000 Glass Slipper, which drew 14.

Lake has perhaps the strongest favorite of the program with The MacCabee for Home Team Stables in the $50,000 Express, which drew 10.

Lake has two solid chances in the 14-horse, $50,000 Iron Horse, in Bellwether and Slew Can Go. Only the latter is owned by Englander.

Mutuel fields needed

Because Canterbury's tote system cannot accommodate more than 12 betting interests, creation of a mutuel field was necessary in the three races that drew 13 or more horses.

Post time for the 11-race Saturday card is 1:30 p.m. The Claiming Crown races will be run consecutively and in inverse order of purse value, beginning with the Iron Horse (race 4) and Express (race 5). Post time for the Iron Horse is 2:53.

This is the third straight year the Claiming Crown has been hosted by Canterbury. Sponsored by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the national Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the event is scheduled to shift next year to another track, although which one has not yet been determined. Canterbury is scheduled to host the event in 2003, 2005, and 2007, with other tracks hosting it during alternate years through 2008.