04/02/2010 12:00AM

Last year's aides now bosses


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Hank Gensler and Mike Lightner, both of whom worked as assistant trainers for U.S.-based outfits last year, are back here this year to train on their own accounts.

Gensler, a 41-year-old native of Dallas, Texas, came to Woodbine in the summer of 2008 as an assistant to Steve Asmussen and continued in that role through last year's meeting.

Lightner, a 61-year-old who was born in Winchester, Ky., was here through the latter stages of the 2009 meeting to work as an assistant for California-based trainer Vladimir Cerin, who did not apply for stalls here this year.

Both Gensler and Lightner have been head trainers before and found that Woodbine suited their purposes.

"This is a top-notch facility," said Gensler. "If you can't do what you want to do with a horse here, you're in trouble. It's a great place for getting in babies, whatever."

Gensler trained from 2001 through 2005, with the majority of his 20 winners coming at Mountaineer Park. He saddled six horses at Woodbine and 19 at Fort Erie in 2005 without finding the winner's circle.

"I didn't want to work with cheap horses forever," said Gensler, who signed on as an assistant to trainer Michael Stidham at Lone Star Park before eventually joining the Asmussen outfit in the fall of 2006. "But now, it was just time to move on, and get back into doing things for myself."

Gensler has 10 stalls and hopes to add to that number through the season.

"I have six or seven 2-year-olds, including a couple of Ontario-sired horses bought at the sale here last year, and some horses coming back from last year or who ran this year down in Florida," said Gensler.

Gensler's charges here include Mommie Whiz, a stakes-placed 4-year-old filly, and Bayland, an Ontario-sired 4-year-old who will be his first starter of the meeting in the second race here Sunday.

Mommie Whiz had been trained here by Asmussen for owner Stan Whisenant before the pair parted ways last fall and was in New Orleans this winter with trainer Malcolm Pierce.

Lightner, who has held a trainer's license since 1969, has horses to fill his five stalls here and 10 replacements in waiting in Florida.

"I always carried four or five horses, training a stable of my own and for friends," said Lightner, who also has raced in Ontario, sending out three horses at Woodbine and eight at Fort Erie in 2003 without finding the mark.

Lightner also has managed farms and training centers during his lengthy tenure on the racetrack. He had last trained at Calder in 2006 and more recently was in the business of buying and selling horses, with his good friend Cerin a principal client.

"When the economy got so bad, it was hard to sell, and that prompted me to get back into racing," said Lightner. "You never get it out of your system."

Lightner's most accomplished performer here at the moment is Accopela Choir, a 5-year-old mare who won for claiming prices of $62,500 and $40,000 when trained by Cerin here last year.

Schickedanz changes gears

Owner Bruno Schickedanz has made some changes here this spring and will have horses with trainer Greg De Gannes for the first time.

No longer training for Schickedanz are Mark Fournier and Abraham Katryan. Fournier had been Schickedanz's main man here for the last two seasons after enjoying success with the owner at Fort Erie and Sam Houston Park. Katryan had a successful earlier run with Schickedanz and trained a handful of horses for him again last season.

De Gannes, 47, has picked up a dozen horses for Schickedanz while seeing his stall allotment soar from 21 to 33.

Yummy With Butter, an Ontario-sired 6-year-old gelding who became a stakes winner in the seven-furlong Overskate here last summer, is the current plum among the Schickedanz newcomers.

Legal Move, a multiple stakes winner who had an off year in 2009, should join the De Gannes stable in the near future.

"I was down at Palm Meadows, with eight horses, over the winter," said De Gannes. "But, I came back about a month ago. I've got a few to run early and I find they need a breeze over this track."

Rebuilding to do

Fournier, 39, has eight stalls here with more horses in waiting on the farm and is in the market for new clients.

His most promising prospect at the moment is Tennis Braclet, an Ontario-sired filly who graduated impressively in her second and final start as a 2-year-old.

Katryan, 53, saddled 50 or more winners at four consecutive meetings to begin the decade and is in a rebuilding phase this season.

Always open to new opportunities, Katryan has 26 stalls here and has an interesting new prospect in Me the Sea and G T.

Owned and bred by the G T Heat Stable of George Tharrenos, Me the Sea and G T won the Bold Ruckus for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds over six furlongs on turf here last summer when trained by Steve Owens.

Live TV starts now

"Woodbine Racing Live" returns to The Score television network this Sunday with a telecast airing from 1:30 until 6 p.m.

The Score will offer "Woodbine Live" on all Sundays except June 13, when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will televise the Woodbine Oaks and Plate Trial in a 90-minute show beginning at 4:30 p.m., and July 4, when the Queen's Plate special airs on CBC in the same time slot.

Woodbine also will be revising its Wednesday-night show on The Score, which is scheduled to begin on May 26 and run through the end of the meeting under the new title "Bet Night Live."

The plan calls for the nationally-aired two-hour show to focus on introducing new people to the game, with an emphasis on wagering.

Woodbine's races also again will be a staple this year on the Television Games Network.