11/28/2001 12:00AM

Loney hopes it's payday


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Radlie Loney figures he gambled and won when he ran Certainly Classic for $32,000 here Nov. 3. Certainly Classic can complete Loney's plan for him when he runs in Sunday's $100,000 Valedictory Handicap.

A 5-year-old gelding by Sky Classic, Certainly Classic won the Grade 3 Grey Stakes here at 2 and was the runner-up in the Sovereign Award voting for his division. He had earned more than $340,000 from 25 career starts when Loney filled out a $57,500 claim slip on behalf of Bruno Brothers Farms of Don and John Bruno here Sept. 22.

"I figured if I ran him back for the same price, I might have lost him," Loney said. "I thought if I ran him back for half the price, they wouldn't touch him.

"He'd also be eligible for $32,000 [starter allowance races] and he's a nice horse going long, on both dirt and grass. That was the plan; we got away with it."

Meanwhile, Loney was undaunted by the fact that Certainly Classic finished last of nine in that 1 1/16-mile debut for his new barn.

"He hadn't run for six weeks," Loney said. "I don't think he likes to be bothered early and he was a little bit too close; he didn't like that. And a mile and a sixteenth is not really his game. When the race was over, he was just getting going. The outrider couldn't pull him up after."

Eight days later, Certainly Classic was more like his old self when he stretched out to 1 1/2 miles in classified allowance company. Well off the early pace under new rider Jono Jones, Certainly Classic rallied to hit the front in midstretch only to be collared by an even later running Winning Skier, who won by a neck - with the third-place finisher another 10 lengths behind.

"He just moved a little too soon," said Loney.

That allowance marathon also happens to be a prep for the Valedictory Handicap, and Loney will be looking for his first stakes victory in that 1 3/4-mile race, which is the closing-day co-feature Sunday.

"When we claimed him, this was the first thing we had in mind," Loney said. "We know he's a horse who likes to run all day, and you never know what can happen."

Emile Ramsammy, who rode Certainly Classic Sept. 22, will regain the mount Sunday.

Jones would have had the call but will be riding Saturday at Garrison Savannah Racetrack in Barbados. His mounts there include Blast of Storm, the Barbados-based star who ran here in August and September. Jones also was to serve a three-day suspension from Wednesday through Friday.

Jones, who came here from Barbados, was tied for eighth place in the standings heading into the meet's final week, even though he did not make his debut here until May 9. His totals for the meet are 57 wins, 53 seconds, and 61 thirds, for purses totaling $2,676,167.

$107 winner is claimed

Loney and the Brunos surprised some Sunday, claiming 4-year-old filly Ending Well, for $45,000.

The claimers obviously thought much more of Ending Well than did the horseplayers, who watched her win the race at a payoff of $107.

"We won a shake for her," said Loney, noting that Mark Casse, who was Ending Well's original trainer but lost her for $50,000 in May 2000, also had entered a claim for the filly.

Ending Well will be looking to return a quick dividend for her new connections when she runs in Friday's seventh race.

"She came out of the race good," said Loney, who has entered Ending Well under the three-other-than allowance condition in the optional claiming event.

Hopeful Moment has upset chance

While Wake at Noon will be tough to beat when he defends his title in Saturday's $109,500 Kennedy Road Stakes here, players looking for an upsetter may take close notice of Hopeful Moment.

Hopeful Moment is among eight entrants in the Kennedy Road, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up that goes as the eighth of 11 races on a program that begins at 12:35 p.m.

"The horse is training well," said John LeBlanc Jr., who trains Hopeful Moment for Racing 2000 and Partners. "We definitely have a shot. With racing luck on our side, I think we can get the job done."

Hopeful Moment, a 5-year-old gelding by Great Gladiator, was at his best here in August, putting together an impressive double, including the Shepperton Stakes. But he then disappointed in the Grade 3 Highlander, finishing seventh in the field of eight.

"I don't think he does well on a deeper or cuppy surface," said LeBlanc. "They'd added a lot of dirt to the track and that was one of my concerns going into the race."

LeBlanc also believes Hopeful Moment's cause was not helped when Estonia, racing to his immediate inside, hit the rail heading into the far turn and lost his jockey.

"I think that kind of startled him," said the trainer.

LeBlanc has no hesitation in throwing out Hopeful Moment's next race, a last-of-13 finish over a mile on "good" turf in the Bunty Lawless.

"That was a total experiment, trying him on turf," he said. "None of his family has run well on turf, but he's a different individual and it was the last Ontario Sire Stakes, so we decided to give him a shot."

Most recently, in the six-furlong classified allowance that served as the Kennedy Road prep, Hopeful Moment broke from the No. 1 post in the field of six and finished fifth, beaten two lengths.

"He was stuck on the rail, and it was bad," said LeBlanc, noting that the track had not favored runners on the inside that day. "It was a struggle down the backstretch, trying to get him to the outside onto a decent part of the track."

Hopeful Moment will break from post 5 Saturday under regular rider Slade Callaghan.