05/13/2005 12:00AM

Giliforte's runners want more ground


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Layne Giliforte is no fan of the short sprints that dominate the Fort Erie cards the first three weeks of the meet.

"The four and a half furlong races [stink]," said Giliforte, the Fort's leading trainer in six of the past seven years. "All mine are ready to go more."

Giliforte moved his barn south during the long off-season here. During that stretch, he saddled 16 winners - 11 at Delta Downs, 4 at Sam Houston, and 1 at Tampa Bay.

"Overall, I had a very decent winter," said Giliforte, "but Tampa Bay was terrible - a catastrophe. I didn't have the right horses for there."

Giliforte, with 23 wins, finished second in the standings for the 2003-2004 Tampa Bay meet. The difference, Giliforte claims, was mostly a matter of numbers.

"I had 39 horses down there last year," he said. "This year, on average, it was 13 - half of them were turf runners that were running every three months."

With 20 of his 30 allotted Fort Erie stalls occupied, Giliforte has made five starts this meet and won once.

Giliforte's highest-profile owner is Eugene Melnyk.

"I have eight for Melnyk with a couple more coming," said Giliforte. "He will always be my main client."

Robillard a smart shopper

The highest-priced winner of the two-week-old meet, Crazy Ricks Cajun ($59.40), was a recent buy, said trainer Joshua Robillard after the score in a $5,000 maiden claimer on Monday. It was the first route race of the meet.

Robillard obtained Crazy Ricks Cajun 17 days earlier for $1,200 in a package deal while on a shopping expedition at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.

"I knew this race was coming up," said Robillard. "We bought him to run him long knowing he had a fitness edge.

"And maiden races always fill," added Robillard, who hasn't tasted too much success here in the past two years, having won just 10 races locally in that period. At the 2002 meet, he won 17 times.

Following last year's short meet, Robillard shipped to Great Lakes Down in Michigan.

"I won half a dozen races there and then went to Penn National after that," said Robillard. "But I got killed there. I had 13 horses and I only got a third.

"I went home for two months and then went to Oaklawn Park. I didn't race there at all. I purchased or claimed six horses for here."

One of the buys is Black Licorice, who finished second at 15-1 here last Saturday in a nonwinners-of-three claiming race for $5,000. Black Licorice has been entered in Sunday's fourth race.

Stretching out on short rest

Ralph Quaranta, who trains a string of horses for Colebrook Farms, will saddle Passionforall for Sunday's first race at a mile and 70 yards.

Passionforall just ran on Monday, finishing fourth. He was only a neck and a nose behind the second-place finisher in the five-furlong race.

"The race gave us a tightener," said Quaranta, a winner of eight races at the Fort last year. "This is Passionforall's distance."