06/01/2012 12:03PM

Fort Erie: Simms's plan is paying off

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FORT ERIE, Ontario – The trainer John Simms has gotten off to a solid beginning as the Fort Erie meet has unfolded. Simms has four wins from 11 starts, a very creditable 36 percent rate.

“We took our time and picked our spots,” said Simms, “and I am very pleased with the results so far. We wintered down in Tampa and our horses were well conditioned in the Florida sunshine. On returning, we eased our way back into training, giving the horses plenty of time to reacclimatize and to relax and enjoy this great surface, the best in North America in my opinion.”

The slow and settling approach has paid off.

“We cut back in stock this spring, won a few – a nice start to the season – and now will take a wait-and-see approach as the year progresses,” he said.

Simms owns his home in Fort Erie, and he likes it here.

“It is a great place to live and to train horses,” he said. “The atmosphere is perfect and the track surface is so kind. That is why older Thoroughbreds can keep going here and extend their racing careers.

“Woodbine is in a different league and the surface there suits some horses and not others. Some of our better horses can fit at Woodbine, while others will not.”

Three conditioners are in front of Simms in the trainer standings going into the weekend: Rav Raghunath, who has a record of 6 for 25; Shawn Rideout, 5 for 19; and Gary Chudobiak, 5 for 25.

Johnson tops jockey standings

Jockey Kirk Johnson has had one goal in mind from Day 1 of the season: To win the riding title.

So far, so good.

Johnson won two races last Tuesday and ended the first month of the meet with nine wins, putting him atop the standings, two ahead of Juan Crawford and Terry Husbands.

“I began the meet with a couple of wins the first day, a good start, and since then I have been working hard to stay ahead of some of my fellow riders,” Johnson said. “I am reasonably happy because I feel that we can build on our performance, and the best is yet to come.”

◗ Twilight racing begins this coming Tuesday with post time of 4:15 p.m. and will continue every Tuesday until the end of August.