07/27/2001 12:00AM

Fenton Platts: Trainer on the rise


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Fenton Platts has experienced his share of ups and downs during his 25 years on the racetrack.

Platts, a younger brother of Canadian Hall of Fame jockey Robin Platts, has gone from exercise rider to jockey to trainer to jockey agent, back to exercise rider and on to training at the racetrack and then on the farm before returning to the track as a public trainer two years ago.

But now it appears the 40-year-old Platts may be ready to embark on a steady upswing, with the recent addition of two stakes-caliber 3-year-olds to his stable at Woodbine.

Devil Valentine, winner of the Kingarvie here last fall, and Dancen in the Sun, runner-up in the June 9 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, both were moved over to the Platts shed row from trainer David Bell's barn last week.

Both Devil Valentine and Dancen in the Sun are owned by Sandra and Gerry Gibbs, who already had placed Devilatmidnight with Platts last month.

Platts, who sent out Lucky Remruck to win his maiden first off the claim here Wednesday night, will be hoping Devilatmidnight can follow suit in his second start for his new barn here Sunday.

This Wednesday, all being well, Dancen in the Sun could be looking to give the trainer his first stakes win in the $100,000 Eternal Search, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies.

Dancen in the Sun, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by subsequent Queen's Plate winner Dancethruthedawn in the Oaks, went on to finish a disappointing fourth in Fort Erie's Bison City in her last start July 1.

"She missed some time after the Bison City," said Platts. "She had some mucus in her trachea; she went back to the farm for two weeks. She's doing well now.

"We're interested in running her in the Eternal Search, but it might be a little too close."

Devil Valentine, who also ran second in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity last year, was considered to be one of the leading Queen's Plate candidates heading into this season but was sent home after two very disappointing efforts.

"He had some bad stomach ulcers, and spent a month on the farm," said Platts. "He's training very forwardly now. We're looking at a couple of spots, but there's nothing definite."

Devil Valentine's options include the Grade 3 Manitoba Derby, a $100,000, 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds at Assiniboia Downs on Aug. 6.

Platts, who was born in England but came to Canada when just three months old, had his first job on the racetrack in 1977. He spent the summer walking hots for trainer Gil Rowntree, who sent out Sound Reason to win that year's Queen's Plate with Robin Platts in the saddle.

"I left high school the next year, to work full-time at the track," he said. "Once you get it into your blood, you can't get out of here."

Platts, who wanted to follow in Robin's footsteps, obtained his jockey's license in the fall of 1979 and rode a horse named All for Magic on two occasions, finishing out of the money.

Although weight put an end to his riding career the following spring, Platts has remained close to the profession.

Following his first stint as a trainer, in 1983, Platts worked for six years as agent for his famous brother.

And now Fenton's wife, Lisa Platts, will be carrying on the family name in the saddle.

Lisa Platts, who had her first mount under her married name here last weekend, rode 1,916 races as Lisa DelliPaoli, winning 171 and finishing second or third another 413 times for total earnings of $1,596,764. She has competed at various venues including New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Luger could be a sleeper

Molly's Wisdom will be the solid choice in Sunday's Bull Page, but one horse who might have a big shot at the upset is Luger.

A Schossberg colt, Luger was bred in Ontario but sold for $72,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale and races for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and trainer Mark Casse.

Casse generally has been associated with American-bred 2-year-olds, largely due to his close ties to the Florida-based Mockingbird Farm of Harry T. Mangurian Jr.

But with the Mockingbird operation winding down, Casse and Canadian-breds will become more of an item.

"People are buying yearlings and sending them to me, because they're Canadian-bred," said the trainer, who won a 2-year-old maiden race with Ontario-bred colt Classic Case here last Sunday.

Classic Case, the $150,000 sales-topper at the local mixed sale last fall, is owned by Martha Gladwell, who is based in Florida. Luger's owner, Bill Heiligbrodt, hails from Texas.

Casse already had the running of the Bull Page in mind when he sent out Luger to finish third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in his five-furlong debut here July 15.

"I really didn't want to run him five-eighths," said Casse. "But it was a good setup for him, two weeks from this race. He closed well, and he's going to enjoy the three-quarters."

* Jockey Jim McAleney will be sitting out the Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday cards after the Ontario Racing Industry Board of Appeal denied his appeal of a suspension issued by the stewards last month.

* Patrick Husbands also lost his appeal of a $500 fine for misuse of the whip and has been fined an additional $300 for filing a frivolous appeal.