11/07/2003 12:00AM

Fairlie having capital year at track


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - No matter what happens in the final three weeks of the meeting, 2003 will have been a career year for trainer Scott Fairlie.

Heading into Saturday's card, Fairlie was second in the Woodbine standings with 56 victories, nine behind leader Bob Tiller.

Fairlie has also won 17 races at Fort Erie, where he maintains a division of six to eight horses. His combined total makes him Canada's leading trainer in races won, and his runners have collected almost $2.4 million. Both figures represent career bests.

Fairlie, 39, has reached his career best in earnings without the benefit of a single stakes starter. Fairlie was slated to send out No Beans in a stakes at Hawthorne Saturday, and is aiming Judiths Wild Rush for the $125,000 Display here next weekend.

No Beans and Judiths Wild Rush are 2-year-olds and represent the changing nature of Fairlie's operation.

Fairlie, who was born and raised in Toronto and took out his trainer's license at Fort Erie in 1985, has made his mark as a claiming trainer.

While Fairlie remains very active on the front, having claimed upwards of 15 horses this year, some of his owners are beginning to supply him with younger horses. Some are homebred and some are purchased at auction.

Fairlie has been very effective with first-time starters, and No Beans and Judiths Wild Rush are among those who won their first time out.

Judiths Wild Rush, a Kentucky-bred owned by Tenenbaum Racing Stable, won his maiden for $50,000 at five furlongs and followed that up with a victory in a first-level allowance at six furlongs, improving his Beyer Speed Figure by 32 points to 88.

While Judiths Wild Rush will be stretching out to 1 1/16 miles for Saturday's Display, Fairlie is confident Judiths Wild Rush will get the trip.

"He gives me every indication he wants to go long," said Fairlie, who sent out Judiths Wild Rush to breeze six furlongs in 1:15.80 here Friday. "He's still green, but I think he's a pretty nice horse."

Meanwhile, the claims keep returning dividends. Line of Defense won the fifth race here Thursday while sporting a $75,000 tag in an optional claiming/allowance race.

The win was the eighth in 23 starts for Line of Defense since he was claimed here Aug. 19, 2001. A 6-year-old gelding owned by Fairlie in partnership with his father, Robert, and Brian Brolley, Line of Defense has earned $347,411 during that span.

Line of Defense still has a long way to go to match Mr. Epperson, who was claimed for $50,000 here April 30, 1999. An 8-year-old gelding, Mr. Epperson has won 11 of 40 races and $885,279 in 40 starts for Fairlie, who also is a co-owner of Mr. Epperson with his father, Brolley, and Ron Marlowe.

Mr. Epperson's biggest year was 2001, when he won three stakes here and the Sovereign Award as Canada's champion sprinter.

"His next year was kind of a drop-off," said Fairlie, who had watched Mr. Epperson win just one of nine starts. "He just didn't seem to be the same. It was almost like he seemed to know he'd done his thing."

Fairlie believes Mr. Epperson has "lost a couple of steps" but is still good enough for the toughest claimers in these parts. Mr. Epperson's recent win at the $80,000 level lifted him past the $1 million career mark.

"I'll probably run him once more this year," said Fairlie.

Fairlie sent out Mr. Epperson to breeze five furlongs in 1:02.20 here Friday.

Slightlymorelikely finds a spot

Slightlymorelikely won the Ontario Debutante here Aug. 10, her first start off the claim for owner Ron Udit and trainer Norm McKnight.

A Florida-bred, Slightlymorelikely also had been claimed from her debut, a second-place finish for $40,000. She was winning impressively for $50,000 when McKnight stepped in with the halter.

Following Slightlymorelikely's success here at six furlongs, McKnight had nominated Slightlymorelikely for the $100,000 Sorority, a Grade 3 race over the same distance for 2-year-old fillies at Monmouth on Aug. 30.

"She got a temperature and had to miss that one," said McKnight. "And since then, there have just been no races for her."

Since Slightlymorelikely is a stakes winner of two races who was not bred in Canada, and since McKnight wanted to keep her sprinting, she had no spots in which to run here.

"I even entered her at Keeneland, but that race didn't fill either," said McKnight. "So here she sat."

The wait will finally end Sunday when Slightlymorelikely will start in the open, seven-furlong Glorious Song. McKnight believes Slightlymorelikely is none the worse for the inactivity.

"She seems fine," said McKnight. "But the distance is going to be a bit of a question. Naturally, I'd prefer six furlongs. She's just a very rapid filly; she runs hard early."

Depending on how she performs Sunday, Slightlymorelikely could be off to Aqueduct for the Grade 3, $100,000 Valley Stream, a six-furlong race Nov. 23.

Smoocher gets in drill

Smoocher, winner of the Grade 2 Grey at 1 1/16 miles in his last start here Oct. 5, worked a smart six furlongs in 1:13 on the fast main track here Friday in preparation for the Display.

Regular rider Jim McAleney was aboard for the drill, in which Smoocher went in company with stablemate Any Way at All, a 4-year-old who also was clocked in 1:13.

Smoocher, a Florida-bred owned and bred by John Franks and trained by David Bell, is a candidate for the Sovereign Award in his division.

Any Way at All, an Ontario-bred owned and bred by Ivan Dalos, has not seen action since winning his maiden in his second career start here Oct. 25, 2002.