10/05/2004 11:00PM

Experience meant little for this winning team


MIAMI - Charlene Stevic does not have a trainer's license. But on Monday she completed a feat any veteran horseman would be proud of when she sent out 2-year-old colt Red Treasure to win his career debut under a $25,000 claiming tag in the fourth race at Calder.

Stevic purchased Red Treasure, a son of Northern Afleet, last March, not at a major horse sale but at a local auction in Ocala. Stevic got Red Treasure legged up over the seven-sixteenth-mile training track on her farm but had to bring him to the Starting Gate Training Center for any serious workouts.

Stevic prevailed upon trainer Steve DiMauro to run Red Treasure under his name Monday. She and Red Treasure made the long van ride from Ocala to Miami during the wee hours of Monday morning, leaving the farm at 1 a.m. and arriving at Calder five hours later.

"I put him in the stall when we got to the track and he just laid down and took a nap," said Stevic, who moved from Ohio to Florida in 1976.

Stevic said she's worked with Thoroughbreds for the last 10 years, mostly broodmares and babies, before finally deciding to try her hand at racing one of her horses.

"They hold local auctions every month," said Stevic. "I bought Red Treasure because I thought he looked like a neat little horse."

Stevic said she knew Red Treasure had some talent the moment he started breezing against other horses at Starting Gate.

"He beat everything he worked against and was never even pushed," said Stevic. "I knew he'd be fit enough to win on Monday, I just wasn't sure if he was fast enough. And needless to say I was simply ecstatic after he won."

Red Treasure rallied from just off the pace in the seven-furlong dash to wear down 3-2 favorite Direct Call near midstretch, scoring a three-quarter-length victory.

Stevic, who raced Red Treasure without Bute or Lasix, said she did not take out her own trainer's license because she could not afford the workers' compensation insurance the state requires for every licensed trainer.

"Steve was recommended to me by a friend of a friend and I met him for the first time the morning of the race," said Stevic. "I'd like to train and race Thoroughbreds, but I can't afford to train them myself because of the workmans' compensation situation. And I prefer staying home and doing it from the farm. I told Steve I wouldn't want his job."

Red Treasure's performance did not go unnoticed. Stevic immediately received several offers for the colt, who was sold for an undisclosed price the following day.

"I got an offer I couldn't turn down," said Stevic. "I'll use some of the money to get myself a new horse. There's another auction coming up later this month."

* Tiz a Dancer tops a field of six second-level allowance horses in Friday's $29,000 main event for fillies and mares. Idle since finishing second under similar conditions July 19, Tiz a Dancer will face her toughest competition from Family Favorite and Cajulena in the 6 1/2-furlong dash.