10/13/2004 11:00PM

Overachieving filly La Belle Fleur stakes-worthy


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Frank Barroby had a choice: run La Belle Fleur for an $11,000 claiming tag or take a shot in the $40,000 Delta Colleen Stakes.

Barroby opted for the Delta Colleen Stakes on Sept. 26 at Hastings, and while he thought that she would run a good race, he never really thought she would win. Not many others did either and that's why La Belle Fleur paid a whopping $65.50 for her 1 1/2-length win over Stormented.

La Belle Fleur, a 4-year-old filly, will still be a longshot when she runs in the $150,000 Ballerina on Saturday, but certainly not 31-1.

Barroby never would have run her for $11,000 but her owner and breeder, Ernie Braithwaite, brought up the possibility.

"Ernie was getting pretty frustrated because races just weren't filling for her," said Barroby. "It's almost impossible to fill a $20,000 to $25,000 route race for fillies and mares. Some of the sprints go but we're just wasting our time running her short. I told him we would lose her if we ran her for $11,000 and I really didn't want to do that."

La Belle Fleur won a $15,000 route June 20, but due to a lack of races here Barroby was forced to ship her to Emerald on July 30, and she finished a distant third. With nowhere else to run he tried her against the boys at Hastings on Aug. 22.

She finally got to run in a race where she actually belonged and responded with a sharp win over Bird of Courage in a $20,000 claiming race Sept. 12.

It never would have entered Barroby's mind to try her against stakes horses earlier in the year. Dancewithavixen was totally dominating the division and not many were willing to line up against her.

"Let's face it, if Dancewithavixen was still around we probably wouldn't have run in the Delta Colleen," said Barroby. "But my filly was doing really well, and still is, so we took a shot. It was a good field, but there certainly weren't any superstars in there."

Barroby is not discounting her chances in the Ballerina.

"She deserves a chance and she'll run good," he said. "She's really good right now and when mares get good they just might beat anybody."

'Nelly' no fan of loud music

Trainer Janet Armstrong has entered You and Nelly and Stormented in the Ballerina. Stormented won the 6 1/2-furlong Cover Girl and then, in her first try going around three turns, she finished a good second to La Belle Fleur in the Delta Colleen. Going into the Delta Colleen, Armstrong actually liked the chances of You and Nelly better, but she washed out badly in the paddock and post parade and never got into the race, finishing seventh.

You and Nelly's taste in music might have had something to do with her dull performance. Armstrong's stalls are near the south end of the barn area and the day of the race a rock concert was being staged on the Pacific National Exhibition grounds, just outside of where Armstrong is stabled.

"It was some kind of East Indian Festival and there was a very loud band," she said. "Stormented seemed to like the East Indian music but it really threw You and Nelly off. She's never acted like that before and I'm just throwing the race out. She should run better Saturday."

Krasner temporarily an agent

Jockey Sam Krasner showed up with a new hat Thursday morning. Krasner has missed most of the year with a herniated disc and he had surgery to repair the disc Sept. 8. He's just starting to get up and around again, and to give him something to do he will be handling Jake Barton's book for the rest of the year.

"From the day of the surgery it will be six months until I can get back on a horse," he said. "The doctor said I can start getting active again and this will be perfect. I've lost a lot of muscle, and walking around for four or five hours a day will be great for me."

Marty Kelly had been handling Barton's book since he arrived here from Fort Erie a few weeks ago.

"Actually, Marty called me and asked me if I was up to it," said Krasner. "He's not feeling that well and told me he had to go back into the hospital. He thought it would be a good opportunity for me. I have been pretty bored sitting around and this should keep me pretty busy. But, it's just temporary; I'll be back riding next year."