04/05/2002 12:00AM

Godolphin alumnus at Chiefswood

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Eric Coatrieux certainly is no stranger to a good horse.

In his days here at Woodbine with Roger Attfield, as an exercise rider and then as an assistant trainer, Coatrieux was associated with Canadian champions such as Alywow, Peteski, and Talkin Man.

More recently, in his position as assistant trainer for Godolphin Racing, Coatrieux rubbed shoulders with the likes of international stalwarts Swain, Daylami, and Fantastic Light.

Now Coatrieux, 35, has returned to Woodbine in another guise, as the private trainer for the Chiefswood Stable of Bob and Mark Krembil. And with some young and promising stock under his wing, Coatrieux will be looking to establish some stars on his own account.

Born in France, Coatrieux came to Canada at age 20 under the auspices of his uncle, local trainer Bernard Girault.

"I had to learn everything, right from the start," said Coatrieux, who had no experience with horses in his homeland. "I was a groom, then an exercise rider."

After spending a couple of years in Girault's employ Coatrieux went on to work here with trainers Tony Mattine and Al Quanbeck before joining the powerful Attfield outfit.

"I took horses all over the States for him," said Coatrieux, who was with Attfield for four years.

One of Coatrieux's traveling assignments took him to the first Dubai World Cup as Queen's Plate winner Regal Discovery, a horse whom he galloped for Attfield, was entered in the inaugural Dubai Duty Free in 1996.

While in Dubai, Coatrieux renewed acquaintances with trainer Tom Albertrani, who had moved there from the U.S., and met the rest of the Godolphin principals.

And after returning to Canada and finishing out the season with Attfield, Coatrieux relocated to Dubai but traveled frequently to North America, where his duties included overseeing Godolphin's Kentucky Derby forays with China Visit, Curule, and Express Tour. He also was at Woodbine in 1999, when Cape Cross raced in the Atto Mile.

Then, last May, Coatrieux left Godolphin and moved to Kentucky.

"I wanted to go out on my own," said the trainer, who spent the rest of last year laying the foundation for his new venture. "I went to the sales, and met everybody."

Initially, Coatrieux had no idea that he would wind up back at Woodbine. But at the Keeneland September sale Girault introduced his nephew to Bob Krembil, who was a former client, and the new association was forged.

"I took his horses down to Classic Mile Farm, in Ocala," said Coatrieux, who checked into Woodbine last week and has 10 horses with more in waiting on nearby Chiefswood Farm.

A.P. Story, who raced here last year with trainer Malcolm Pierce, may be the most recognizable name under Coatrieux's care.

A Kentucky-bred 3-year-old colt by A.P. Indy, A.P. Story was winless in four starts last year but missed by just a nose when traveling around two turns in his season's finale.

But the trainer's first starter probably will be Jazzbit, an unraced 3-year-old homebred who has been working since mid-January at Classic Mile.

"He's just about ready to run," said Coatrieux. "He looks all right."

Coatrieux's long-term prospects include a trio of promising 2-year-old fillies.

Pipers Trick is a homebred by Favorite Trick, while Turned On, a Kentucky-bred by Kris S., was purchased at Keeneland's September yearling sale for $300,000. Prairie Flame, a Kentucky-bred by Touch Gold, was bought there for $250,000.

Olympian had an alibi

The Olympian bandwagon may be considerably lighter for Sunday's Jacques Cartier following his fourth-place finish in the opening-day Briartic Handicap.

But trainer John Cardella points out that Olympian, whom he also co-owns in partnership with the Rexdale Stable of John Sullivan, had a legitimate excuse for his distant fourth-place finish behind Wake at Noon as the 2-1 second choice.

"When he left the gate, he jumped on his quarter," said Cardella, explaining that Olympian's back foot had caught the heel of his front foot. "Most horses who stumble leaving the gate, that's what happens.

"He didn't do a lot of damage to his foot, but it kind of put him out of the picture. It's tough to overcome something like that. He'd trained so good going into the race; I was very disappointed."

With several of the speed-oriented Jacques Cartier nominees either unready or opting for other spots, Olympian may find himself loose on the lead Sunday.

"I hope he gets away good," said Cardella, who adds that Todd Kabel, who had piloted Olympian to a front-running upset in last fall's Kennedy Road but booked off his mounts opening weekend, will be back in the saddle.

o Veteran jockey Jack Lauzon, who was among the leading riders after moving his tack to Fort Erie last year, is planning to stay at Woodbine in 2002. Neal Wilson, who also represents Emile Ramsammy, will be Lauzon's new agent, taking over from Fort Erie-based David O'Connor.