07/25/2001 11:00PM

It's a jock's life on Canadian TV, starring Villeneuve


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Jockey Francine Villeneuve will be featured on a 30-minute television program being aired coast to coast Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. The monthly show, Sports Axxexx, which is on the cable sports network, The Score, profiles leading Canadian female athletes and is hosted and produced by Lisa Bowes. The theme of Tuesday's show, basically, is the life of a jockey.

In lifetime purse earnings won by a female, Villeneuve at $7,994,442 is the all-time leader in Canada. Woodbine-based Laurie Gulas, who has returned to action recently, is second with just over $6 million. She was out for 22 months after suffering serious head and neck injuries in a spill. Regina Sealock, with 590 victories has the most wins by a female. Villeneuve trails her by 21.

Villeneuve, 37, sat out the 1999 season to have a baby. Last year she won 55 times and finished sixth in the Fort Erie standings. Presently, going into Saturday, she ranks ninth with 20 wins.

"I'm kind of cruising," said Villeneuve. There's a lot of new faces here and things are getting tougher. There's not as much pressure now with the increased purses. If you win your share the money is good. Last year three jocks had more than a million in purses."

In the winter Villeneuve goes south and exercises runners. This year she is going without a jockey's agent and books her own mounts. "I'm saving a lot of money and I'm more in touch with the racing aspect of it. I know where horses are going and I'm more aware of where they should be running. I talk to the people more. It's harder and more work - but it's worth it."

Sutherland wins first stakes

Sunday was a big day for apprentice jockey Chantal Sutherland. She won her first stakes race when she squeezed through on the rail and got Katsumi ($18.30) to the wire first to capture the $50,000 Border Cup. But it wasn't all peaches and cream - she had to survive a claim of foul.

In the other supporting feature to the Prince of Wales, trainer Lynn Simon sent out Beau Gentleman to win the $50,000 Benburb Stakes. It was her first stakes win with the string of horses she took over for the Frank Stronach Stable last year. Simon had won a stakes twice with Quiet N Calculating previously.

Meet may be extended

The Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has made a formal request to Nordic Gaming, the operator of the Fort Erie Racetrack, to extend the present season to the end of November. The 2001 season is scheduled to end Oct. 30.

"We'll have enough money to pay the $150,000 estimated average per day for purses," said the body's president Larry Regan. "The board of directors approved the horesmen's request [July 19] and we submitted it July 25. And we're waiting for their reply."

The Ontario Racing Commission has received an application from Fort Erie Race Track for some changes to their assigned Home Market Area for Telephone Account Betting. The hearing will be conducted Wednesday, Aug. 29.