02/14/2002 12:00AM

Lockhart speeds up after slow start

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EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Trainer Lori Lockhart's fortunes this year resemble a stock market chart. After bearish conditions to start the year, the bulls - and her horses - have been on the move the past two weeks. Expensive Verdict will try to keep things rolling for her Saturday in the $30,000 Hannah Dustin Stakes for fillies and mares at a mile and 70 yards.

Co-owned with her father, Lloyd Lockhart, Expensive Verdict keyed an incredible run of good luck with a victory Feb. 2. Since then the Lockharts have gone 6 for 9, including five straight victories and two second-place finishes.

Expensive Verdict's win also helped her set out from the shadow of her three-time stakes-winning stablemate Weepecket, who was nominated to the Dustin, but who isn't yet ready to return to action after finishing fifth in the $100,000 Spicy Living at Rockingham last summer.

"I don't think Expensive Verdict has as much talent as Weepecket," said Lockhart, who won the Hannah Dustin in 1998 with Nu Expense. "But Expensive Verdict has given me a lot fewer problems and has been a lot more sound. There's a lot to be said for that. She's also got a stakes win of her own," Lockhart said, referring to the Sunset Gun Handicap last May.

Lockhart is relieved her meet has turned around after a slow start.

"It was just three weeks ago I was sitting on the steps of the racing office telling my brother-in-law how we couldn't seem to get close," said Lockhart. "But it's turned around quickly. I'm just glad it has."

Out-of-town invaders Dame D'Loc and Weekend Kaper will try to end the futility of recent shippers to Boston's stakes races. Dame D'Loc was fourth in the Summit Stakes this fall at The Meadowlands. Weekend Kaper won an allowance race over the track after shipping in from trainer Ned Allard's Philadelphia Park base.

Mixed up confusion

Tuesday's ninth race featured a starting gate mix-up in which No. 1a Skim Board started from post 5 rather than 7. Skim Board made an early move for the lead, but tired badly and was eventually eased under the wire.

"There's nothing in the rules that dictates what to do in that situation," said chief commission steward William Keen. "At least in this case the horse was eased and didn't appear to profit in any way. We've told the commission [what happened], but the most we can do is make sure it doesn't happen again."

* Jockey Winston Thompson countered leading rider Joe Hampshire's five-win day last week with a sweep of the final five events Wednesday to get back within single digits of the top of the standings.

* Apprentice Helena Keaveney suffered a broken nose and other facial injuries when Emmitt fell in Wednesday's eighth race. She was treated and released from Massachusetts General Hospital.

* Nathaniel Puello went to a Worcester-area hospital Wednesday complaining of a pulled muscle that forced him to stand in the irons before the wire on his final mount of the day in race six - nearly costing Plucky Lady second place. He also complained of flu symptoms.

* Teo Perdomo rode two races before taking off his last mount with the flu as well.