08/15/2007 11:00PM

Morden finds shuttling a good route to success

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Lyle "Butch" Morden is rolling along at a 44 percent win rate as the Fort Erie meet rounds out the summer.

In addition to his local stable, Morden has a number of runners at Woodbine and has had four winners there from 27 starters, a 14 percent mark.

Morden, who lives in Fort Erie, commutes back and forth six times a week between the two tracks for a good part of the spring and summer.

Now, he has cut back to three trips per week and has given his son Richard the opportunity to oversee more of the Toronto operation.

"This year I have been running my horses at the Fort, right where they belong," said Morden.

"Picking the right spots is so important, and we have been successful in doing just that. I am reasonably satisfied with the record at Woodbine, but the same approach for that track is now on the program.'

Morden has 12 stalls at Fort Erie and eight at Woodbine. He would like to expand the Toronto stable, but stalls are limited.

Morden has had to turn away a couple of owners on the short term, yet hopes that in time things will work out in that regard.

It is that time of the year when the racing days for next season are under serious discussion, and Morden is keeping close tabs on the proceedings.

"This town relies heavily on the racing industry, and the spin-off effect to restaurants and other businesses is considerable," said Morden. "Hopefully, we can at least maintain the current status and maybe boost the purses up a touch."

Recently, Morden shipped Imperial Alydeed from Woodbine for a try over the dirt surface here. Speeding to a clear lead on the turn, the horse decided to head directly for the outside stretch rail.

Morden said that, at that moment, he thought both the horse and his jockey, Dale Hemsley, "were heading directly for the barn."

"The two of them completely disappeared from view," he said. "The next thing I knew we were heading for the winner's circle."

Somehow Hemsley got the horse straightened out right next to the outside rail, and he flew home glued to that rail and over the unharrowed surface.

"Some horses prefer dirt over the Poly surface," said Morden. "Imperial Alydeed is one of them. Once he got back to the dirt, he just loved it, and nothing was going to stop him."

Morden is very pleased with his stable crew. His wife, Rachelle, handles the barn when he heads to Woodbine, and she has the able assistance of Johnny Wannamacr. Cindy Whalen has also joined the crew at the Fort this summer.

"We have a happy barn here, and the atmosphere is another positive element that has brought about the good results," Morden said.