09/02/2006 12:00AM

Giliforte all prepared to jump in the lake


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Trainer Jason Giliforte said that he has his swimming technique down pat for Labor Day.

Giliforte hopes to display his prowess following the running of the Puss n Boots Cup on Monday. It's been an unbroken tradition that someone on the winning crew celebrates with a plunge into one of the three infield lakes here at the Fort.

The tradition was born when owner Robert Elkins fulfilled a pledge and dived fully clothed into a lake after his Dancing With Beans scored in the 1996 Puss n Boots.

The onus for the dip is on the jockey. In the past two years, however, the trainer has joined his rider in the water.

Last year it was Giliforte and rider Chris Griffith. In this edition the two are united again with Kris's Dancer, last year's Puss n Boots winner. Kris's Dancer was named Fort Erie's 2005 horse of the year.

The Puss n Boots is named after a runner who in a Fort Erie race in 1961 gained notoriety when he took a sudden left-hand turn near the wire while well in front. He went through an opening on the turf course and ended up swimming in an infield lake.

The Puss n Boots, for colts and geldings, is the second of two $30,000 Cup races on the holiday Monday card. The first, for females, is the Centre Stage Anne.

Both Cup races are scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf and each has drawn a full field of 12.

Trainer Daryl Ezra has a strong hand in the Centre Stage Anne.

Ezra will saddle Lindsey's Dove and Jet Engine, the one-two finishers in the Fort Erie Cup over seven furlongs on the turf Aug. 26.

Monique Dionne, the regular rider on Lindsey's Dove, will be after her third Cup score. Her first came on Cold War, when she replaced injured rider Regina Sealock in the Peace Bridge here Aug. 13.

Ezra, who is also the track's race caller, was lavish in his praise for Dionne's ride in the Fort Erie Cup, in which the winning margin was 4 1/4 lengths.

"The ride was sensational," he said. "She broke sixth, didn't rush the horse. She went between horses and then angled out. It was unbelievable - you couldn't plot it any better."

Fort Erie's leading rider, Rob King Jr., will ride Jet Engine.

* William Galvin, author and poet, will be on hand Monday at Fort Erie to help launch of his recently published book, "Ballads of the turf and other doggerels." It contains a poem and short story about Puss n Boots.