01/14/2011 5:04PM

R Betty Graybull gives White another win


OZONE PARK, N.Y.– Visiting the Aqueduct winner’s circle this winter has become a habit for trainer Linda White.

White, a longtime assistant to former New York Racing Association circuit kingpin Gasper Moschera, is 3 for 6 this winter at Aqueduct, her most recent victory coming with R  Betty Graybull in Thursday’s $60,000 Leecoo Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares.

Not bad for a trainer with just six horses and who this time last year was an assistant trainer, working with a fringe Kentucky Derby prospect while basking in the sunshine on the West Coast of Florida.

“I certainly never expected to be standing in the shed row at Belmont in the middle of winter talking to you about winning a stakes with ‘Betty’ I could tell you that,” White said Friday. “Not in my wildest dreams.”

Last winter, White was an assistant to Alan Seewald, who had a string of horses stabled at Tampa Bay Downs led by the promising 3-year-old Uptowncharlybrown. Seewald died in early April, a week before Uptowncharlybrown was to run in the Lexington Stakes, where he finished third.

White was then promoted to head trainer by the ownership group, Fantasy Lane Stables, though Uptowncharlybrown went to Kiaran McLaughlin for a try at the Belmont Stakes. That proved to be a nightmare when, after crossing the finish line fifth in the Belmont, Uptowncharlybrown was disqualified and ordered unplaced because he did not carry the assigned weight for the duration of the race. Uptowncharlybrown has not run since, and is based on a farm in Ocala, Fla., where he is expected to resume training next month.

Meanwhile, White had a tough summer at her Monmouth base, not winning a race from May to September. That streak ended when R Betty Graybull won the Anniron Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 29. Her victory on Thursday was R Betty Graybull’s third win in her last four starts, the last two coming around two turns.

Entering the race, White was more concerned about R Betty Graybull handling the inner track than the two turns.

“I wasn’t really too worried about it because she handled every track we’ve ever taken her too,” White said. “She won at Philly, Monmouth, Belmont, and now Aqueduct inner. She takes her track with her. She was very good going into that race, she couldn’t wait to run.”

Bob Hutt, managing partner of Fantasy Lane, said R Betty Graybull would be pointed to the Grade 2, $150,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park on Feb. 19.

White has three horses for Fantasy Lane and three for other owners. One of those horses is River Fancy, who has won two consecutive claiming races. River Fancy was formerly trained by Mike Sedlacek, who is spending the winter in Florida. He remains the owner.

White doesn’t know what the future holds, if she’ll get more horses to train or be working as an assistant for someone else. All she’s doing is living for – and enjoying – the moment.

“I’m just trying to get through the winter,” White said.

So far, she’s getting through it just fine.

Bensen, of Heatherwood Farm, dies

Lloyd Bensen, who along with his wife Edna raced several stakes winners under the banner Heatherwood Farm, died on Wednesday due to complications from pneumonia, according to trainer Richard Schosberg.

The Bensens were the first big owner for Schosberg and campaigned stakes winners As Indicated, Sovereign Kitty, Personal Bid, Lord Beer, and Fighting Jet.

“He was our first big client, a good personal friend, all around good guy,” Schosberg said. “He treated us like family, a terrific person who will be dearly missed.”

Six to contest Winkfield Stakes

Aqueduct will be open Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with a nine-race card highlighted by the $65,000 Jimmy WInkfield Stakes for 3-year-olds going six furlongs.

The race features a rematch between Royal Currier and Fort Hughes, who were separated by a head in the $75,000 Southampton Stakes at Parx Racing on Dec. 21. Royal Currier, claimed for $20,000 by trainer Patricia Farro, has won three of four starts since the claim, including two stakes.

Stewart Elliott will come up to ride Royal Currier from post 3, one slot outside of Fort Hughes, who will be ridden by Eddie Castro. Ramon Dominguez, who rode Fort Hughes last out, will be in south Florida on Monday hoping to win his first Eclipse Award as North America’s leading jockey.

Others entered in the Winkfield include Bambi Bound, Rift, Bravo Romeo, and Running Tap.

With Aqueduct open Monday, it will be dark Tuesday and Wednesday.

◗ Francesca Petrecca, a 10-pound apprentice jockey, was taken to North Shore Hospital after she fell off her mount, Frantic Domer at the three-sixteenths pole of Friday’s fourth race. Petrecca, a former exercise rider for Bill Mott, was complaining of pain in her wrist and groin.