09/13/2002 12:00AM

Gaskin rides winning career path


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Jockey Tyler Gaskin rode his first stakes winner Sept. 2, aboard Get Down Wolfie in the Puss N Boots at Fort Erie.

"To win a stakes race in my second year was just the most exciting thing," said Gaskin, who was in third place in the Fort Erie standings with 62 wins heading into this weekend. "I remember it all, but it's still blurry.

"You need the right breaks to work out for you. And I've been fortunate, in that everything I needed to go my way has sort of gone my way."

Gaskin, 23, is still in the learning stage of his craft. If he hadn't waived his apprentice allowance at the start of the 2001 season, he would still be riding with an allowance of five pounds today.

With time off for a three-month break during the winter, Gaskin's apprenticeship period - had he not waived the allowance - would be ending in October.

Gaskin rode his fifth winner on July 15, 2001. At five wins, a rider's apprenticeship officially begins, and it lasts for a period of one year. The period is extended if the rider doesn't reach 45 wins in a year.

Gaskin was riding with a 10-pound "bug" when he won his first race. It was the second day of the 1999 season at Fort Erie. A month later, with no other winners, he quit.

"Trying to make the 106 pounds (to take full advantage of the 10-pound allowance) was killing me," said Gaskin, who at 5 feet, 6 inches is considered tall for a rider. "I could get it down, but I felt terrible and was miserable. I looked terrible and had no energy. Even talking was a chore."

Gaskin returned to exercising horses but last year the itch to be a jockey returned. To avoid weight battles, he requested and was granted a journeyman's license.

Following a friend's advice, Gaskin picked Scott Lane, a 21-year-old groom at the time, to be his agent.

"Scott is a year younger than I am, but oddly we have the same birthday, Aug. 2," said Gaskin, who ended with 39 wins last year.

"He knows the game inside out. The two of us, from where we started to where we've come together as a team is unbelievable.

Get Down Wolfie is Keeneland-bound

Get Down Wolfie's next start will be at Keeneland Oct. 11 in a 1 1/16-mile turf race, said Gina Powell, the owner and trainer of the horse.

The $61,000 allowance race, called the Bel-Mar, is open to 3-year-olds and up who have not won $18,000 twice on the turf other than maiden, claiming, or starter in 2002.

"Having won four races, Wolfie can't run allowances here, and there's no stakes race left for him here," said Powell.

Four stakes scheduled on Sept. 24

Fort Erie's next stakes will be run Sept. 24. There will be four $60,000 races that Tuesday, all restricted to horses who were offered at one of Woodbine's open yearling sales or 2-year-olds in training sales.

The races, formerly run at Woodbine, are the Juvenile for 2-year-old fillies, and the Juvenile for 2-year-colts and geldings; the Harry A. Hindmarsh, for fillies and mares, 3 and up; and the Harry J. Addison Jr., for colts and geldings, 3 and up.

The Juveniles go at six furlongs, the Hindmarsh and Addison are at 1 1/16 miles.