07/27/2005 11:00PM

La Vanway going for his first stakes win


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer William La Vanway will be trying to win his first stakes race when he saddles Devil's Turn in the B.C. Cup Debutante Monday. It will also be the first time La Vanway has ever started a horse in a stakes.

La Vanway, 30, has done very well with his small stable that is made up of mostly lower level claiming horses. He's hoping to get better horses in the future and he knows that if Devil's Turn runs well in the Debutante, it should help further his career.

"You have to prove yourself in this business," he said. "Nobody is going to give you a good horse just because you're a nice guy. I've had mostly cheap horses so far, but my goal is to train and develop better stock."

Devil's Turn won her only start, a 3 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race July 10, but she'll be facing much stiffer competition in the Debutante.

"It's a tough spot but she's training well and anything can happen," said La Vanway. "I'm hoping for a good race but our main goal is the Sales Stakes."

La Vanway, who is Navaho, has been around horses all his life and he should know how to develop young horses. He grew up on a Navaho reservation in Arizona and one of the ways he earned money was catching wild horses. After he broke them, he would sell them to local ranchers.

"It was a lot better than shooting jackrabbits and coyotes," he said. "But the rule in my house was that whatever we killed, we had to eat. Jackrabbits weren't bad but coyotes, no thanks.

La Vanway said that because of an overpopulation of coyotes, there was a bounty on them. "We got about a nickel for every ear we turned in," he said.

La Vanway is also a martial arts expert, and he first discovered Vancouver when he was involved in a martial arts competition in 1990.

"Where I come from it's mostly sagebrush and tumbleweed. When I saw all the greenery here, I just fell in love with the place," he said. "I wasn't really planning on living here but one month turned into two, and 15 years later I'm still here."

At the time he was working in a nuclear plant in Texas and it was an easy decision to stay in Vancouver.

"We were tested for radiation every six weeks," he said. "I was pretty sure I didn't want to work there for the rest of my life."

He started a martial arts school in Vancouver but he was always passionate about horses and decided to change careers.

The transition was made easier with the help of local trainer Pat Jarvis and her family.

"They were wonderful. My first job on the track was galloping horses for them in Yakima," La Vanway said. "I also worked on the starting gate at Hastings, but all along I knew I was going to be a trainer."

La Vanway is totally involved as a trainer. Along with his wife, Elizabeth, he gallops his own horses - and he's also a blacksmith for some of the horses he trains. He also shoes horses for other trainers.

"I figured if I was going to do horses for a living I might as well learn everything about it," he said. "For me it's also a lot easier being on a horse. I have a lot of respect for people who train from the ground, but I need to be on a horse to tell how they're really doing."

It didn't hurt that La Vanway ended up being stabled next to local Hall of Fame trainer George Cummins.

"He's shown me a lot," said La Vanway. "He's like an elder. He has so much knowledge and he's willing to pass it on."

Cummins thinks that La Vanway has a great future ahead of him.

"Of all the new trainers that have come along in the last four to five years, William stands out," said Cummins. "He's built his life around training and he's in it for the long haul."

In the past two years at Hastings La Vanway has started 88 horses and won 19 races. If he keeps putting up numbers like that, he figures to be around for a long time.

"I owe a lot of my success to the great help I have in the barn," he said. "I just hope I can keep the team intact."

Big weekend for Turners

Trainer Arnie Turner and his son Michael Turner have a very busy Sunday planned. They're running four horses in four different stakes at three different tracks.

Arnie Tuner is entering R. Associate in the Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup at Emerald Downs. Michael is sending Snorter to Emerald for the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap and Docalady to Northlands Park in Alberta for the Princess Margaret Stakes. He also will saddle Tobe Suave at Hastings in the $75,000 Great Canadian Stakes.