01/01/2003 12:00AM

New Year a fresh start


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainers Howard Belvoir and Brent Sumja were happy to turn the page to a new year on Wednesday.

Their barns have been slumping at Golden Gate Fields, but are heading into 2003 hoping to build some momentum following recent victories.

Belvoir has started 32 horses at the meet and has only one win, Dreamin Demon last Saturday. He does have seven seconds and four thirds.

The statistics for the Sumja barn are similar. When New Jag finally won his maiden Sunday - following five straight seconds - it was only the barn's second victory of the meet from 31 starters. Sumja began the new year by winning Wednesday's fifth race with Cheyenne's Boy.

"I haven't got the stock, but I have bad luck, too," Belvoir said. "Everybody goes through it. You wait till it turns around."

Aggie Anderson, Sumja's assistant trainer, is hopeful things will turn around soon.

"It's been a heck of a meet luck-wise, but you can't change how you handle your business," Anderson said. "You have to believe in yourself. It's worked in the past and will work again. We got a nice win from New Jag, maybe that's a sign things will turn around."

Belvoir, who finished 2002 with a 10.6 win percentage, says streaks can't be explained.

"There's no rhyme nor reason," Belvoir said. "You see a barn get hot for no reason. You get wins, but you don't do anything different."

Belvoir runs horses at Emerald Downs and in northern California. He said he believes many of the horses he has with him at Golden Gate Fields may have been tired when they arrived here.

"Horses [at Emerald Downs] seem to run every two weeks. It's a four-month meet, and most of my owners are there and like to see their horses run," he said.

"The races are generally scheduled two weeks apart, which means if you miss one, you have to wait 28 days. We run our horses hard, and it's not a forgiving track. It's not real springy, and horses get tired."

Anderson pointed to a wide range of factors for the Sumja barn slump.

"There are so many variables, so many ways to get beat, and so few to win," said Anderson. The Sumja barn had a 17.2 win percentage in 2002.

"When we first got here, we had a little virus go through our barn, and even the horses that didn't get sick weren't at the top of their game. This was a new surface for our horses while some people stay here all the time. The small details add up."

* The weather was bright and sunny on Wednesday after clearing began mid-afternoon on Tuesday. The track surface began to dry and horses were able to use the entire track for training after previously having to work around the dogs for nearly one week.