06/17/2005 12:00AM

Pembroke Hall must sit out after claim


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Pembroke Hall, one of Fort Erie's best-known horses, has changed owners.

Pembroke Hall was claimed for $12,500 out of his 2005 debut on Tuesday, a race in which he finished second. His new home is trainer Debbie Rombis's Against the Wind Stable.

A quarter-mile specialist, Pembroke Hall, 8, has won 16 races in 39 starts. Ten of the wins, all at two furlongs, were consecutive. The streak started at the Fort late in 2002 and ended on Aug. 2 last year, when Bermuda Triangle beat him by a head.

Pembroke Hall avenged that defeat in his next and last start of last year, on Aug. 27, defeating Bermuda Triangle by two lengths.

The highlight of Pembroke Hall's career, in which he has amassed earnings of $285,753, is his score on last year's Summit of Speed program at Calder Race Course in Florida. It came in the two-furlong, $50,000 Rocket Man Stakes.

The claiming conditions for the popular two-furlong dashes here at the Fort were altered this year, and it will affect Pembroke Hall.

In the past, the claiming price topped at $25,000. Weight assignments started at 125 pounds, and one pound was deducted for each $1,000 drop in claiming price, down to a price of $6,000.

This year the claiming price is set at a straight $12,500. To be eligible to race in Ontario, a claimed horse must be entered at a level at least 25 percent higher than the price for which it was claimed, for 30 days after the taking. That leaves Pembroke Hall ineligible for all two-furlong races for 30 days.

Meanwhile, Thats the Problem, trained by Noel Randall and owned by Albert Sanges, has taken the crown from Pembroke Hall. And he did it in style, in a field of nine.

Bothered by Bermuda Triangle soon after the start of Tuesday's race, Thats the Problem was briefly steadied before rallying on the inside to nail Pembroke Hall in the final jump. It was Thats the Problem's second straight eye-catching win at the two-furlong distance.

Three weeks earlier, Thats the Problem had won the first two-furlong dash of the year with authority, pulling away from Bermuda Triangle to win by 2 1/2 lengths. It was Thats the Problem's first try at the distance.

With Tuesday's score, Thats the Problem has now won three times this year at the Fort. Going into Saturday's action only he and Wild T'Mater, trained by Nick Gonzalez, share that distinction.

On Monday, in the first quarter-mile race of the meet solely for females, there was a big upset. Tobin's Gabby, trained by Michael Cohen, maintained a half-length lead throughout to hold off another longshot, Ciano's Six Pack.

* Storming on Merit, who dominated the females here last year, has been sent to the breeding shed and will be mated with Perfect Soul.