08/09/2002 12:00AM

Ginger Gold out for season with chip

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Ginger Gold, Canada's champion 2-year-old filly of 2001 and winner of the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks this June, is through for the season.

Mel Lawson, who bred Ginger Gold and races the filly under his nom-de-course Jim Dandy Stable, said she emerged from her third-place finish here in Monday's Wonder Where with a bone chip in her right ankle and is to leave this Monday for Kentucky where she will undergo surgery.

In four starts last year, Ginger Gold won the Shady Well, Natalma, and Princess Elizabeth and earned $362,339. This year she added $466,250 to her bankroll in five starts. She is trained by Sid Attard.

Her lone win this year came in the Oaks, and she finished second in three stakes - the Grade 1 Selene, the Fury, and the Labatt Bison City. The Oaks, Bison City, and Wonder Where make up the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Ginger Gold is the second Canadian champion trained by Attard who has been lost for the season due to an ankle injury.

Numerous Times, the Sovereign Award turf male after winning the Grade 1 Atto Mile here last year for The Committee Stable, was sidelined late last month.

Atto prep for Waltzin' Storm

Waltzin' Storm hasn't taken a wrong step yet in his two starts this year, winning third-level and fourth-level allowance races here June 1 and July 6, with both races over seven furlongs on turf.

Now trainer Mark Casse is hoping to get Waltzin' Storm to the big dance, the $1 million Atto Mile here Sept. 8, and will use Saturday's $150,000 Play the King as his lead-in.

"That how we planned it," said Casse, who trains Waltzin' Storm for the Mockingbird Farm of owner-breeder Harry T. Mangurian Jr. "We gave him a little extra time between his last race and the Play the King so he could come back in three weeks in the Atto Mile."

Waltzin' Storm, a Florida-bred 4-year-old, finished second by a nose here in the Summer Stakes over a mile on turf as a 2-year-old. It was his second career outing. But the colt did not win his maiden until his eighth try, scoring over seven furlongs of turf here in July 2001.

That race marked a turning point for Waltzin' Storm, as he won twice more here last summer and heads into the Play the King having won five of his last six starts, his only loss a sixth-place finish in his final appearance of the season here last Sept. 14.

"He hurt himself a bit there, and we gave him the rest of the year off," said Casse. "He's more mature now; he'd been a real nervous horse."

Mr. Epperson to defend

Mr. Epperson, last year's Play the King winner, has been freshened with an eye toward Saturday's renewal of the Grade 3 feature.

A 7-year-old who is trained by Scott Fairlie, Mr. Epperson spent some down time on the farm after finishing last of 14 in the June 23 Nearctic. But the gelding has worked well since his return, including a five-furlong breeze of 1:01 on the main track here Friday.

Mr. Epperson will be in the market for a new rider because Jim McKnight, his longtime partner, left Woodbine last month in order to be closer to his family in Louisville.

McKnight departed on a winning note, taking the $105,000 Kamar Stakes with Devastating here July 14. He has ridden a couple of times since then at Ellis Park.

Resilient rider

Jockey Laurie Gulas escaped without injury here Thursday after her mount in the seventh race, Tricky Moment, suddenly veered to the inside and hit the rail hard, unseating her. But she was back in the winner's circle after Friday's first race, having guided Flowers Onthe Wall to victory for trainer Mike Doyle.

Gulas, whose main claim to fame is winning the 1999 Breeders' Stakes aboard the filly Free Vacation, missed all of 2000 and part of the 2001 campaign due to head and neck injuries. She recently won the $336,300 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes here with Strike Smartly.

Recovery Fund grows

The Barn # 7 Recovery Fund, launched by the Woodbine Entertainment Group, the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and several individual horsemen, had surpassed $150,000 heading into the weekend.

Nick Coukos, executive director of the HBPA, said most of the donations have come from horsemen, not only locally but also from nearby Fort Erie and other racetracks across North America.

The purpose of the fund is to compensate uninsured trainers, grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, and other backstretch employees who have been affected directly by last Sunday's fire here.

In addition to the 32 horses who lost their lives in the fire, almost $400,000 worth of equipment is believed to have been destroyed and 21 backstretch workers have been left homeless.

HBPA insurance policies will provide a $1,000 equipment allowance for each horse, to a $50,000 maximum, and owners of uninsured horses with $20,000 per animal, to a maximum of $500,000.

A number of the dispossessed backstretch workers have taken up temporary residence in the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's trailer adjacent to the sales pavilion here.

Meanwhile, the office of the fire marshall continues its investigation. No cause for the fire has been determined and its exact point of origin has been detected but is not being made public.

* Apprentice rider Lori Bitner, who will ride the third race of her career when she is aboard Clinketts here in Sunday's second race, is being represented by jockey agent Tom Patton Jr. Patton also represents leading rider Patrick Husbands and journeyman Jono Jones, who is injured.

* Emile Ramsammy will sit out Sunday's card to serve the final day of a three-day suspension, and will begin a second three-day suspension Thursday. The suspensions date back to rulings from last August, which were appealed by Ramsammy. Those appeals were dropped last November.