05/24/2002 12:00AM

Ramirez's ailing wrist not hurting him now


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Jockey Martin Ramirez is back exactly where he was last year on June 9, the day a broken wrist ended his season.

He's at the top of the rider standings here at Fort Erie, and he is performing some of the same heroics he was performing back then.

On May 13, 2001, Ramirez won four races on the program. Last Sunday, he repeated that feat.

Counting his three other victories last week, Ramirez went into Saturday's card leading all riders with 14 winners, three more than Neil Poznansky in second place.

Ramirez worried quite a bit last year when his wrist was slow in healing.

"The doctors talked of surgery," he said. "But a specialist advised me to try riding again. If it didn't get better, then I would need an operation."

Ramirez, a 37-year-old native of Tijuana, Mexico, took his tack to the winter meet at Tampa Bay Downs. His riding record there was nothing great: He finished with six wins from 111 starts.

"Tampa is a tough place to ride," said Ramirez, who was Fort Erie's leading rider in 1999 and was second in 2000. "The horses I was riding weren't top quality. But the main thing was my wrist, and it came out of it at about 100 percent."

Clark heats up, wins six races

Ramirez wasn't the only riding star over the past racing week. Cory Clark won six races, to triple her total winners this meet to nine and move into a third-place tie with Chris Griffith and Brian Bochinski.

Clark won the riding title here in 2000 and finished third last year behind Griffith and Bochinski. She once again is riding for trainer Layne Giliforte, who has been the track's leading trainer each of the last four years. For most of last year, Giliforte was using other jockeys.

"I really believe that you click with certain people," said Giliforte. "From the very first mount I put her on, we had an incredible one-two percentage. Some statistics I pulled up on the computer about jockey-trainer combinations last year showed that we won over 100 races together. And the win percentage was over 30."

Trainer praises apprentice rider

Kris Robinson, with five wins, was Fort Erie's leading apprentice heading into Saturday's card. He has drawn high praise from trainer David Schmidt.

"I used him twice," said Schmidt. "They were great rides.

"He used his head. Intelligent. I didn't have to tell him what to do. These were horses that weren't supposed to have a chance. One [Dublin Line, on Tuesday] finished second at 33-1. The other [Time N Half, on May 6] was third at 76-1."