07/28/2004 11:00PM

Ex-jockey now assists in training

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Maree Ramirez, wife of Fort Erie's leading jockey, Martin Ramirez, acquired an assistant trainer's license this summer.

"I'm really excited about it," said Maree Ramirez, a former jockey whose maiden name was Maree Richards. "It's a new chapter in my life, a new beginning."

Maree Ramirez had 415 wins when she retired, at age 30, after the 1996 season to start a family. Her daughter is now 7.

In her final season, Ramirez had 60 wins, good for sixth place in the Fort's standings - three spots behind her husband, who finished third. Her best year was 1989, when her 75 victories made her the runner-up for the riding title.

To keep fit, Maree Ramirez had been galloping horses as a freelancer for the past couple of years. This spring she bought a colt privately after it was unsold at a 2-year-olds in training sale, and she went to work for trainer Dick Jukosky.

From Jukosky's barn, the colt, Razari, was shipped to Woodbine, and he won at first asking June 19. It was a claiming race, and the horse was lost for $45,000.

"I did like him," Ramirez said. "I think he could be a nice 3-year-old. He's a nice horse with a lot of class. But I did lose him for a lot more than I paid for him."

Ramirez has already replaced him with an unnamed filly by Lucky Lionel.

"She's doing well," Ramirez said. "First time out at the track she did everything like a champ - nothing bothered her."

Ramirez started the track life at 14. She worked for John Tammaro for five years at Kinghaven Farm, where she groomed at first and then started galloping horses at 16.

Ramirez has no aspirations to be a big public trainer. She would rather have just a few horses and do all the work herself.

New names atop meet standings

With the meet ending on Labor Day, two long streaks appear to be coming to an end.

Layne Giliforte, the Fort's leading trainer for the past six years, is in seventh place as the racing week starts Saturday. With 10 wins, Giliforte trails the co-leaders, Tom Agosti and Don MacRae, by 11.

In the owner standings, Bruno Schickedanz is in fourth place, tied with the Stronach Stable, with nine wins. At the top is Mike Barkowski with 13 victories. Schickedanz has been the leading owner at the Fort for the last seven years, and eight of the last nine.

Debbie Rombis's Against The Wind stable has 11 wins, and Darryl Jackson has 10.

Locals consider Mountaineer stakes

Two Fort Erie-based runners have been nominated to stakes at Mountaineer Park on the Aug. 7 West Virginia Derby program.

Trainer Myckie Neubauer is planning to run Rundle in the $85,000 Chairman's Cup at 4 1/2 furlongs, and Justin Nixon has named Royal Regalia to the $85,000 Speaker's Cup, a one-mile turf race.

Royal Regalia, owned by Frank Stronach, set a one-mile course record of 1:31.84 at Woodbine on July 1 in his only 2004 start.

"We've been looking for the right spots for him," said Nixon. "No races for him here. There was one going seven furlongs, but we wanted to go further."

* Starting Aug. 6, Fort Erie adds Fridays to its live racing week. The 81-day meet is scheduled to end on Labor Day.