08/10/2005 11:00PM

Gonzalez does it right for Stronach


FORT ERIE, Ontario - It appears that Nick Gonzalez has become the go-to guy when the Stronach Stable runs at Fort Erie.

Gonzalez, the Fort's leading trainer, got an infusion of six runners from the Stronach operation in late June. Previously, either Justin Nixon or Sean Smullen were named trainer for the Stronach runners here.

On Tuesday, with the filly Sundown Delight making her second lifetime start, Gonzalez got his eighth winner for the high-profile Stronach outfit. Gonzalez now has 24 winners, six more than second-place Lyle Morden.

"The horses came to me in such good shape, the only thing we tried to do is not screw them up," said Gonzalez.

Sundown Delight finished 9 1/2 lengths clear in the 1 1/8-mile race, clocked in a swift but wind-assisted 1:50.89. In her debut here, July 12, Sundown Delight won by 8 3/4 lengths.

Gonzalez said that Sundown Delight could go next in the $30,000 Centre Stage Anne here Sept. 5. The 1 1/16-mile turf race is one of the Fort's eight cup races that are restricted to runners that have had at least two previous starts at the meet.

On Saturday Gonzalez saddles Rocking Bird for the Stronach Stable.

"This weekend we'll run another couple for Stronach, Alpha King and a maiden filly, Arouser," he said.

Concessi's weekend a bumpy ride

Trainer Armand Concessi experienced the bad and the good last weekend.

On Sunday, his Angel's Wisdom finished last in the Don Valliere Memorial, which was won by Ontario Road. It was the first cup race on the Fort Erie schedule. Angel's Wisdom was the second favorite.

"[Angel's Wisdom] had a bit of a heat stroke," said Concessi. "He wasn't right when he came back. It seemed like he was falling down in the behind, and he was carrying his head real low. He'll get a rest now."

On Saturday Concessi saddled four runners.

Colonel Cleator finished a bad last in the fourth race. "We've sent him to London [Ontario] for throat surgery," he said.

Concessi's other three - Dawn Charger, Fire the Firm, and English Gentlemen - won.

"It was the second time I won three in one day," said Concessi, who moved into the top five in the trainer standings. "The last time was Sept. 22, 1978. It was at Finger Lakes."

Concessi said that Fire the Firm would go next in the Parnitha on Aug. 21. It's five furlongs on the turf, the same conditions as Saturday's race.

New safety rail does the trick

The wisdom of the installation of a new safety rail at the Fort last year was evident on Tuesday.

In the opener, the filly My Imperial Miss broke from post 1, angled to the rail, and slammed it hard. The rider, Edgardo Manalad, was thrown in the air and landed on top of the rail on his back.

The momentum caused Manalad to slide flat on his back for several yards on the new wide surface. He was uninjured.

"[The incident] is a good advertisement for the new safety rail," said Neil Poznansky, last year's leading rider. "It served the purpose, exactly like it was supposed to."

"It should be mandatory at every racetrack," said jockey Regina Sealock.