05/26/2004 11:00PM

High Blitz raises some eyebrows with 94 Beyer


FORT ERIE, Ontario - The most impressive race of the four-week-old Fort Erie season occurred in Monday's feature when High Blitz won off by five lengths in an optional claimer at six furlongs.

High Blitz, owned by Stronach Stables, was timed in 1:10.45 on a track labeled good. Nine days earlier, on May 15, multiple stakes winner Rare Friends, a Canadian champion at 2, had trounced Fort Erie's 2003 horse of the meet, Ashagio, by six lengths in an almost identical time, 1:10.50.

The track on May 15 was rated fast, however, and was judged by a couple of the track's figure experts to be three lengths faster than the surface on Monday. The Beyer Speed Figures support that theory. High Blitz earned a career-best 94 Beyer. Rare Friends received an 89.

High Blitz, a 4-year-old gelding who didn't begin his racing career until last Sept. 20 at Pimlico, now has a record of 3-1-1 in six starts.

Trainer Justin Nixon said High Blitz is the most talented animal he has had the privilege to train.

"He's a little green but all he needs is a little seasoning," said Nixon. "I think he can be any kind - hopefully a stakes winner."

Nixon, 35, is in his second year with Team Stronach. He took charge of Stronach's Maryland division early last year. Before that, he operated successfully as a public trainer at the Fort for six years.

Nixon is here with 19 runners he brought from Pimlico, plus others that have been sent from other Stronach centers to fill 30 stalls.

High Blitz is the fourth Stronach horse to race at the meet.

"We settled in May 10," said Nixon. "The horses needed to adjust and be acclimatized. We'll have quite a few runners this week but only one on Saturday.

"I expect to do a lot of business here. We're going to race a lot of horses."

Rombis on a roll

Debra Rombis saddled three winners the past week, as did Ross Armata. They are tied atop the trainer standing with eight wins each.

"What a feeling! Wow," said Rombis after her most recent win on Tuesday. "I hope it keeps going."

And it just may on Saturday. Rombis likes the chances of both runners she has entered on the card.

"Deemed Ready was second in his first lifetime start," said Rombis. "He dragged his rider to the front. The race was at six furlongs, and he did five furlongs by himself. This one is at five furlongs. If he runs back to his race he should win.

"Belle De Naskra ran third in her last for $10,000. She had a bit of a troubled trip. She's back in for the same price."

Home, for Rombis, is an 86-acre farm in Fort Erie where she prepared her runners over the winter. Facilities there include an indoor arena, a half-mile track, and a horse exerciser.

"I don't race during the winter," said Rombis. "I prefer to give them a break."

* Trainer Candice Warwick had two reasons to celebrate on Tuesday. It was her 50th birthday and she scored her first win of the year. She won with the filly Exquisite Ruckus, who was making her first start of 2004.