07/12/2004 11:00PM

Plan falling into place for Fraser


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Apprentice jockey Corey Fraser rode his first Thoroughbred race at Woodbine last Oct. 13, finishing second aboard War Medal.

On Tuesday morning, Fraser still was basking in the glow of his first stakes success, having guided Velvet Snow to an upset victory for owner Frank DiGiulio Jr. and trainer Bob Tiller here in last Saturday's Ontario Damsel.

"Coming down the lane, I thought, 'I'm going to catch these guys. This is great,' " Fraser said.

The Damsel also was the 15th win this season for Fraser, who put away his tack in order to preserve his apprentice allowance after riding his fourth winner here last Nov. 22.

"It's gone picture-perfect," said Fraser, referring to his 2004 campaign. "Better than I thought it would, although I didn't think it would go badly. The right horses have just come my way, and the right people have supported me."

To view Fraser as an overnight success story, however, would be inaccurate. Fraser, 27, carefully laid the foundations for his career as a jockey.

"There's so much to learn, with the whole business, not just riding," said Fraser, who worked as a hotwalker, groom, and exercise rider before launching his riding career aboard Quarter Horses at Picov Downs in nearby Ajax, Ontario, in 2002.

"That was my steppingstone to this, from the beginning," said Fraser, who won with 26 of 154 Quarter Horse mounts. "I wanted a good base beneath me. To me, it's a serious thing here. I wasn't just taking it lightly."

Fraser was galloping horses here last summer for trainer Mac Benson when he decided the time had come to take the plunge. His first step was to engage veteran jockey agent Lorne Spearman, and the pair made the rounds of the backstretch for a couple of months.

That legwork obviously has paid off, as Fraser has ridden for not only Tiller, but also Roger Attfield, Mike Keogh, and Danny Vella, to name just a few.

It was Tiller who also gave Fraser his only previous stakes mount, when Fraser rode Rare Friends to a second-place finish in Fort Erie's Niagara Falls.

"Bob Tiller has been unbelievable," Fraser said. "He has a ton of confidence in me, and that gives me a ton of confidence."

Benson, who also employed Fraser as an exercise rider for the last couple of winters in Payson Park, Fla., said he is happy to have played a role in Fraser's success.

"I'm very, very proud of the boy," Benson said. "It was a pleasure to have him working for me, from the get-go. He's taken this whole thing so business-like. He made a plan, and stuck to the plan."

Loss changes Nashinda's plans

Benson was reviewing his own plans for Nashinda, who finished last of five as the 3-5 choice in the Ontario Damsel, a 6 1/2-furlong race that was her turf debut.

The Ontario Damsel was Nashinda's first start since May 16. She had been sidelined by a bruised foot on the eve of the June 13 Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

Although Nashinda had entered the Ontario Damsel off a series of solid trials, including a turf work the preceding Sunday, Benson said he might have overestimated her readiness.

"With a horse that has so much ability, when they work it can be very misleading," Benson said. "They don't take enough out of themselves. When they race, they're not fit enough."

Benson said he had hoped to use the Ontario Damsel as Nashinda's steppingstone to the $250,000 Wonder Where, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies here Aug. 1.

"I've all but ruled out the Wonder Where," said Benson, adding that a more logical stakes target for Nashinda at this point would be the Grade 3, $150,000 Duchess over seven furlongs on the main track here Aug. 21.

Chris's Bad Boy another disappointment

Nashinda was not the only odds-on favorite to come up short in stakes competition here last weekend. Chris's Bad Boy, trained by Vito Armata, finished eighth at 9-10 in Sunday's Bold Venture Handicap.

"He had a rough trip," Armata said. "He was wide the whole way. By the time he reached the eighth pole, the horse was empty."

Armata also said Chris's Bad Boy, a 7-year-old gelding, will undergo some blood tests before returning to training.

Inish Glora goes for third straight

Benson will field another probable favorite here Sunday, when Inish Glora, a 6-year-old mare whom he trains for Bob Costigan, goes off as the 122-pound highweight in the Grade 3, $150,000 Dance Smartly Handicap.

Inish Glora indicated her readiness here Tuesday morning, breezing five furlongs in 58.60 seconds under exercise rider Gaye Lynch.

"She's good," Benson said. "She's been that way all spring. I'm very pleased with her."

Inish Glora, Canada's reigning female turf champion, will be seeking her third win in as many starts this season when she runs in the Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile grass race for fillies and mares.