05/14/2004 12:00AM

Lausten enjoying a reversal of fortune


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Extremely frustrating would be a way to sum up the season that trainer Carl Lausten had at Hastings in 2003. Lausten won only three races from 59 starts, but it wasn't that his horses were running poorly, they just weren't winning. More than half of his starters finished in the money and 18 finished second.

"A friend said that I was one horse away from having a great year," said Lausten. "But that's horse racing. Everyone has bad meets, and I guess it was my turn last year."

The easygoing Lausten never let the slump get him down, though. He is pretty excited about his stable this year, and he is off to a quick start. From just four starters, he has already won as many races as he did in 2003 and he could have a budding star with 3-year-old filly Princess Alex. She ran twice at 2, finishing second both times, but she was a very impressive winner over colts and geldings in a maiden race last Sunday in her 3-year-old debut. She will make her next start in the Supernaturel Stakes May 24.

"It's hard to say how good she is, but I would be surprised if she wasn't a stakes horse," said Lausten. "There's a lot to her, and I like the way she just looked those colts right in the eye and wasn't intimidated at all. The only thing that surprised me was that she was in front. In the mornings she usually likes to have something to run at."

Lausten was the trainer of another very good filly named Remarkably Easy. She was a multiple stakes winner at Hastings, and she also finished second in the Grade 3 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita.

"They both have similar qualities," he said. "They're both well-bred, and like Remarkably Easy, Princess Alex is very aggressive."

Lausten had not planned on running Princess Alex against males, but when she ended up being stuck on the also-eligible list in a filly maiden race Saturday, he made a last-minute decision and entered her late. Lausten's move cost jockey Frank Fuentes a win. Fuentes has been working Princess Alex all spring and had the call Saturday, but he was already committed to a horse in Sunday's race and he honored the commitment. Sam Krasner ended up riding Princess Alex.

"I knew she was a nice filly and that she was going to be tough to beat," said Fuentes. "But you just can't turn people around like that and expect to be successful around here."

Fuentes might have thought differently if he were not the regular rider for Regal Red. She will likely be the odds-on choice when she runs in the Supernaturel.

"That certainly made it easier," he said. "I knew I was probably only going to ride Princess Alex once. She is a very nice filly, though, and it should be a good race when she faces Regal Red."

"It was unfortunate Frank couldn't ride her," said Lausten. "Luckily, Sam was available and we did pretty good with him when he rode Remarkably Easy."

Krasner rode Remarkably Easy when she won the futurity in 1990.

One reason for his early-season success, Lausten said, is exercise rider Shelley Morison. Last year, Lausten didn't have a steady exercise rider for his horses, and he feels having Morison aboard every day makes a big difference.

"The horses just seem happier," he said. "Shelley is an excellent hand on a horse, and they seem to appreciate having her around. There's just a lot more harmony in the stable."

Racing photographs on exhibition

National Newspaper Award-winning photographer Ralph Bower will put 45 years' worth of horse racing photos on display in an exhibition titled "Photofinish" at Simon Fraser University Campus at the Harbor Centre. The 160-photo exhibition includes shots of local racing history - such as Johnny Longden aboard Prince Scorpion for his 6,000th win - as well as photos from racing all over North America.

Bower has been a regular at Hastings since 1956 and helped form the Fourth Estate Stable that was made up of members from the Vancouver media. The exhibition runs from May 31 to June 12