04/17/2009 11:00PM

Fresh stock helps McCarthy get ball rolling

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OLDSMAR, Fla. - The fortunes of a racing stable often run in streaks, and nobody can attest to that fact more than trainer Brenda McCarthy.

The first half of the race meet here at Tampa was a period that the McCarthy outfit would just as soon forget, as the stable won a single race from its 58 starters. McCarthy says inexperienced help and horses that had been running hard for months were reasons for the dry spell.

McCarthy cleaned house after the first of the new year, moving out some of her fatigued runners and bringing in some new help. The outfit started winning races and life has been good under the McCarthy shed row since. Since Feb. 17, when the McCarthy-trained Tawnimara won a race, the stable had won 11 of 58 starts through Friday, for a winning percentage of 19.

"Early in the year we had some horses that just weren't going to do anymore - they weren't doing us any good - and I also had some help that wasn't working out either," McCarthy said. "When you're running year round, you're going to have attrition, and if you don't make changes and adjustments you're going to find yourself with nonproductive horses that take up your time, energies and money while not producing, and that just won't work.

"You've heard it before but it bears repeating - a trainer is only as good as their help and their stock. Right now we've got a good crew and some decent horses, and that's why we've been able to win some races the last two months."

The McCarthy outfit is not graced with any major stakes horses, and the stable survives in the world of claiming runners. McCarthy has made eight claims at the meet and continues to work to find runners for the future. She has several runners on the farm that will be brought back when she ships back to Suffolk Downs next month, and she pointed out that being able to rotate stock and bring in fresh runners is critical for a stable that has little down time.

"We've got some horses that prefer the surface at Suffolk and I've also got some turf horses that just don't fit the turf program here, so they're on the farm getting some R and R," McCarthy said. "And there are some horses I've got here that like the Tampa surface but don't do well at Suffolk, and they'll get some time off this summer. Racing has become a 12-month a year industry and you've got to work on a schedule that will allow your horses some time to regroup."

* Two other trainers are quietly having solid meetings. Dale Bennett, who was recently voted trainer of the month by a local business, had won 4 of his last 10 starts and had 21 wins at the meeting through Friday, while Jane Cibelli won her 18th race of the season when Gato Paso won the fourth race Saturday.