05/20/2011 12:19PM

Fort Erie: Speed to spare for dashes


FORT ERIE, Ontario – A rainy three days and a sloppy track greeted Fort Erie patrons last week. In the short sprints, speed was the danger, but closers fared better as the races stretched out.

The first two-furlong dash of the year was run Monday afternoon, and the Robert Johnson-trained Minkredible led from start to finish. Chris Griffith, the meet’s leading rider with nine wins, cleared early as a number of rivals had trouble at the break, losing all chance.

Local fans love the dashes, and it appears there will be a solid group of speedsters throughout the racing schedule, including fan favorite Texas Blitz, winner of last year’s Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred challenge.

Texas Blitz’s trainer, John Simms, entered the weekend atop the trainer standings with five wins, including two scores Monday. as his Tampa shippers had him in front of all rivals in the trainer standings with five wins, which included two scores Monday. One of the scores came from owner Steve Organ’s Biblionico, who ran down front-running Cacouna to take the third race, a six-furlong claimer. started the day for Simms in the third race when Martin Ramirez, riding his first of two winners on the day, kept the front-running Cacouna in his sights and then ran that one down in the late going.

Simms was extremely pleased with that result.“Steve Organ has six runners in my barn, including Texas Blitz, and he certainly deserves the win,” Simms said. “In three years, we have met but once. His business keeps him on the road and on the move, but he stays interested and is a credit to the game.”

In Monday’s final race, Bullet Boy, another Simms trainee, charged through the stretch and scored a 2 1/4-length win at odds of 9-1.

Biblionico and Bullet Boy both shipped to Fort Erie from Tampa Bay Downs, and Simms credits his streak to the conditioning his runners get over the deep Tampa surface.

“They have to work hard down there, and that conditioning pays off when we arrive at the Fort,” he said. “My owners recognize that it costs to keep runners on the farm over the winter and have opted for Tampa instead. That decision is now paying them back.”

Newcomer does double duty

Allison Walker is the new assistant to Elissa Blowe, Fort Erie’s media and marketing manager. Walker, 23, is a recent graduate of Brock University. She said she is pleased with the opportunity to join the Thoroughbred business and opens each day as a gallop girl on the backstretch.

“I am not sure where my life career will take me, but this is a great chance to learn and grow,” she said. “I spent the winter at Payson Park in Florida, galloping for the Attfield barn, and now I am doing the same in the mornings here for Layne Giliforte.

“The opportunity to work in the track’s media and marketing office is perfect, and I am learning something new every day.”

Seminar for holiday card

Top handicapper Jennifer Morrison will host a seminar beginning here at 11 a.m. Monday. Morrison will be providing handicapping hints to all in attendance and Nick Gonzalez, leading trainer at the Fort last year, will join Morrison to provide a trainer’s perspective to racing.