06/22/2006 12:00AM

Giliforte moves into third spot


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Having scored a hat trick on Monday, Layne Giliforte moved into third place in the trainers standing here at Fort Erie. He is now three wins behind the leader, Nick Gonzalez, who has 10.

Giliforte, who operates at both Fort Erie and Woodbine, describes his 2006 season as "just okay."

He elaborated: "I'm happy how the season is going here, but I'm very disappointed with Woodbine. Nothing is running terrible there - I'm just not winning. And to me, that's what it's all about."

Giliforte has saddled 2 winners from 29 starters at Woodbine. Last year he had 13 wins there. At the Fort, he is 7 for 21.

In the previous race week at the Fort, June 10 to June 13, Giliforte's fortunes started to rise.

"I had two wins," he said, adding that two others "got caught at the wire."

Giliforte, 38, was the leading trainer at Fort Erie for six consecutive years, from 1998 to 2003.

Maiden winner looks promising

Gonzalez, with three wins in the past week, took over the lead from Stacey Cooper in the trainers' race. He won the title last year with 56 wins, 17 more than the runner-up, Lyle Morden.

Gonzalez's latest score was by So Much for That, who won a maiden $25,000 claimer handily by three lengths on Monday. He was coming off a second-place finish on May 30, his first race at Fort Erie after starting his career at Woodbine.

"He was pretty competitive in Toronto for $40,000," said Gonzalez. "And he ran a winning race here the first time. This time he showed a little more speed and laid up a little closer."

Plans are to race So Much for That in an allowance race next.

"He's by Northern Afleet, the sire of Afleet Alex," said Gonzalez. "So he'll run farther than six furlongs. He's still a 3-year-old. Another race here will make him eligible for the cup races here."

The 19-race cup series will begin Aug. 5. To run in them, three previous starts at the present meet are required.

Albu barn heating up

It took trainer Ken Albu 13 starts to get into the win column at the meet. The breakthrough win came Sunday with Dance Slightly ($11.30), a recent claim.

On Tuesday, with his next starter, Straight Exchange, Albu was again in the winner's circle. Straight Exchange, owned by Albu's wife, paid $25.60. Lockpicker, at 12-1, finished second for Albu later that afternoon.

"We got the monkey off our back," said Albu. "I've got younger horses, so I haven't run as many as I usually do at this time of year. But things are starting to jell."

Albu, 41, is in his sixth year at the Fort. Before that, he worked for Woodbine trainer Sid Attard.

With 14 wins, Albu finished 11th in the standings last year. He had 31 seconds.