10/22/2003 11:00PM

Fierce and Warren have impromptu partnership

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Jockey Ron Warren Jr., a perennial top 10 rider in northern California, was playing golf with former jockey and racing official Paul Nicolo the week the Bay Meadows fall meeting opened. Warren's cell phone rang, and on the other end was Warren's agent, Tom Doutrich, telling the jockey he was going to take a job as racing secretary.

"Paul suggested calling Fordell Fierce," Warren said.

Fierce retired from training two years ago and had never served as an agent before, but he agreed to give it a try.

Thus far, Warren hasn't missed a beat.

Through Wednesday, Warren was tied for second in the Bay Meadows jockey standings with Jason Lumpkins at 31 victories each. With Lumpkins heading to Santa Anita on Friday to ride Private Horde in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Sprint, Warren has a chance to pull in front of him in the standings.

Warren is also second in purse earnings, behind Russell Baze, with $727,633 through Wednesday.

"I'm going to have to make some decisions for Saturday," Fierce said. "So far, it's been going pretty good.

"I got pretty lucky to get one of the top riders here. It's like having a good horse to train."

Successful agents are a combination bloodstock agent and handicapper as well as salesman.

Fierce always was respected as a good horseman, one who developed a multitude of stakes winners, including the record-setting sprinter Black Jack Road and Vaudeville, whom he turned into a Grade 1 winner and Breeders' Cup participant.

His eye for horses, particularly on the turf, makes him a good blend with Warren, who is northern California's finest turf rider.

"Fordell's good at spotting horses for turf," Warren said. "All his best horses were grass horses."

"I've always thought it was a good thing when you excel at something whether it's turf or sprints or whatever," Fierce said.

Warren says he hasn't had to teach Fierce much.

"I rode a lot for him, and he knows what kind of rider I am," Warren said. "About the only thing is sometimes I have to get him to limit the number of mounts he puts me on."

The taciturn Fierce and serious Warren have even had some fun.

"The first day we came to the track together we walked in behind [trainer] Cliff DeLima. He didn't see us and bumped into [trainer] Ed Moger Jr.," Warren said. "He said, 'I just heard Warren hired Fordell Fierce. Can you imagine those two miserable son of a guns working together?'

"I told Fordell, 'See how much fun this is, and it's only your first day.' "