10/27/2005 11:00PM

Kris's Dancer named meet's best

Michael Burns
Kris's Dancer wins the Puss N Boots Cup, one of his four victories at this year's Fort Erie meet.

FORT ERIE, Ontario - Kris's Dancer was honored as Fort Erie's horse of the year at the annual awards banquet at Fort Erie on Thursday evening.

Owned by Iris Bristow and trained by Jason Giliforte, Kris's Dancer won 4 of his 6 starts at the meet. He started the season with two second-place finishes.

Three of the scores by Kris's Dancer, a stretch-running 6-year-old gelding, were on the grass. The last one was in one of the Fort's most popular races, the Puss N Boots Cup. It is is a Fort Erie tradition for the winning connections of the Puss N Boots Cup to celebrate by jumping in the infield lake.

Kris's Dancer was also named top male turf horse of the meet.

Giliforte, 33, is in his third year as a trainer. Previously, Giliforte toiled for his older brother, Layne, who has been leading trainer at Fort Erie six times.

Two runners out of the barn of trainer John Simms were honored: New Kid in Town as top male sprinter and Roman Romance as queen of the female sprinters. Both are owned by Dennis, Dean, and Michael Payer.

The top female turf runner was Decadent Dash, who is trained and owned by Pierre Crete.

Best claimers were Halo's Appeal, in the male division, and Classical Ruckus in the female division.

The Distance male title went to the Daryl Hasmatali-trained Hunter Todd, while the female version of the award went to Stronach Stable's Showbird.

That's the Problem, trained by Noel Randall, was named the champion quarter-miler of the meet. He was undefeated in four starts.

The best claim of the year was judged to be Sparkman. Trainer Bobby Lane made the claim for Haritage Hill Farm.

In the people category, Nick Gonzalez was awarded the leading trainer title. With only five days remaining in the meet he had an insurmountable lead, 52 to 39, over runner-up Lyle Morden.

Chad Beckon was declared both the leading rider and the top apprentice at the meet. Headed into the final week he topped the standings with 96 scores - 17 more than Neil Poznansky in second.

Shelley McGirr, who works for Mike DePaulo, was named assistant trainer of the year, while Susan Sharpe was named groom of the year. Sharp was employed by Jack Wilson.

In special voting by their peers, Stacey Cooper was made the outstanding trainer while Chad Beckon was elected the outstanding rider of the year.