10/03/2002 12:00AM

Giliforte first million-dollar trainer


FORT ERIE, Ontario - With three wins on Tuesday, Layne Giliforte became the first trainer to surpass $1 million in purse earnings at Fort Erie in a single season. Going into Saturday, his total stands at $1,030,811.

Giliforte, a 34-year-old native of Buffalo, has been the leading trainer here for the past four years, but admits he was concerned about stretching the streak to five when the meeting began April 27.

Giliforte had lost his main client, Bruno Schickedanz, who has been Fort Erie's leading owner for five successive years.

Schickedanz wants his runners to be the mainstay of the stable, and Giliforte's success was attracting new clients, among them such prominent owners as John Franks and Eugene Melnyk.

"I'm living a different life now with the owners and horses I have," said Giliforte.

"It's above and beyond what I ever dreamed of. But in order to stay competitive, statistically, you have to have the lower claimers as well. I have a very strong goal to win the title again, and the owners title as well."

Giliforte's plan is to expand his own claiming stable, Startin Small, which he began in 2000 with three horses. The outfit started this season with six runners but the number soon snowballed to as many as 18 before leveling off at about a dozen.

Giliforte heads the Fort Erie trainer standings with 66 wins, nine more than Chris Tuttle, who is second.

In the owner standings, Giliforte is tied for second with Mike Barkowski with 21 wins. Schickedanz leads with 24.

Good weather, good luck

Patience and reading "The Farmer's Almanac" have paid off for trainer David Schmidt, who brushed aside logic and hung on to Single in Seattle over the winter.

Although sound, Single in Seattle was a turf-loving mare who had run just four times at 7 last year and only twice in 2000. Her earnings for the two years totaled $15,647. During those years, poor weather was the cause of reduced racing opportunities on the grass here.

But what a windfall the weather dropped on Schmidt, who also owns Single in Seattle, this year. She has won four of six starts and was second in the other two. She started her year on June 22, and has earned $77,280.

"If it had of been a wet summer, I would have gotten nothing," said Schmidt. "I'd been reading the Almanac over the winter. They predicted a dry, dry summer. I figured I'd give her another shot."

J and B's Nu Image out to end 0-fer

Schmidt, who is in fifth place in the trainer standings, finally gets a dirt start here for his stable star, J and B's Nu Image, who is entered in the eighth race here Saturday.

A 6-year-old mare who was bred in New York, J and B's Nu Image has won 14 of 33 lifetime starts, but is winless in four tries this year. She was second last month at Woodbine.

* Prince of Wales winner Le Cinquieme Essai will run in a one-mile optional claimer at Woodbine on Saturday.