07/13/2005 11:00PM

Rare taste of success

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Lone Star Park
Trainer Beverly Fowler has won a career-best eight races this year, including two stakes by Rapid Transit favorite Rodeo's Castle (2).

SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Beverly Fowler has had plenty of time to think about what might unfold when the is run Saturday at Canterbury Park.

Fowler, aside her longtime friend, Donna Holmes, rode for 17 hours Tuesday in a truck pulling a horse van from Louisiana.

"We left Bossier City at 5 in the morning and got here at about 10 p.m.," said Fowler.

Based at Louisiana Downs for most of the year, Fowler has flown far under the national racing radar ever since she began training Thoroughbreds in 1991. With a career record of 48 wins from 632 starters, or less than 8 percent, Fowler never had won more than five races in a year - until this year, that is.

Rodeo's Castle and Slade, the two horses that Fowler and Holmes hauled north, have accounted for seven of Fowler's career-high eight wins in 2005, and either would provide Fowler with the greatest moment of her career if successful Saturday.

Rodeo's Castle is the morning-line favorite in the $100,000 Rapid Transit, while Slade figures as a fringe player a half-hour later in the $100,000 Emerald. Rodeo's Castle already has accomplished what no other horse has done for Fowler: win back-to-back stakes, having captured the Ford Express at Lone Star Park and Kings Court at Louisiana Downs in his last two races.

"But I've never won a $100,000 race," said Fowler.

Having logged 14 years - not to mention 1,060 miles (according to mapquest.com) to get from Louisiana Downs to Canterbury - she certainly has done the time and gone the distance. "Obviously we would love to win Saturday," she said. "It would be the best thing ever to happen to me in racing."

Rude surprise for Sirota

Trainer Keith Sirota had quite an ordeal getting from his New Jersey base to Minneapolis. His Wednesday night flight from Newark was delayed nearly five hours, leaving Sirota to sleep a few miserable hours on an airport bench in Chicago.

Sirota said he hopes things go much better Saturday when his stable star, Morine's Victory, puts a six-race win streak on the line in the $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel. Unfortunately for Sirota and Morine's Victory's owner, Hammer Time Stable, three rivals in the Jewel are graded stakes winners.

"Unbelievable, isn't it?" he said. "Last year, it seemed like the top horses in the Jewel were the equivalent of $75,000 claimers, but obviously the horses this year are better than that."

This is the third trip to the Claiming Crown for Sirota, who currently has a nine-horse stable at Monmouth Park. He won the Express with Pioneer Spirit in the first year of the series, 1999, then sent out Star de Mint to a fifth-place finish the next year in the Glass Slipper.

Following his arduous trip, Sirota hopes he was greeted with a prophetic omen when arriving early Thursday at a local motel.

"They gave me room 111," he said. "I hope those 1's turn out to mean something."

Shorter stretch may benefit 'Pride'

Chantal Paquette is hoping Out of Pride will validate her belief that the mare prefers a more compact turf course than the European-style layout at their home track at Woodbine near Toronto.

"They've got that long stretch, and I really don't think that suits this mare," said Paquette, whose father, Bruce, claimed Out of Pride in February under the stable name of Majestic Thoroughbreds.

Out of Pride, a gray 6-year-old who has won 16 of 37 starts, is the morning-line favorite in the $100,000 Tiara. She will be looking to rebound off a last-place finish in her last start, the Grade 2 Nassau on June 4 at Woodbine.

"She has one style," said Paquette, who has been training for five years and currently oversees seven horses. "She makes her move in the turn and kicks on. She has been doing very well since she arrived here Saturday. Hopefully the course here at Canterbury will be much more to her liking."

Brown pinch-hits for a stranger

Crafty Player will be one-and-out for trainer Wilson Brown when he runs Saturday in the $100,000 Rapid Transit. The 4-year-old Crafty Player last raced May 21 for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., but with Dutrow currently serving a 60-day suspension that stems from medications violations in New York and expires later this month, it was necessary to transfer the horse into someone else's name.

"I know his name, but I wouldn't know Dutrow if he fell over me," said Brown, a 30-year veteran from Oklahoma.

With some exceptions, the day-to-day care of most of Dutrow's huge stable, including Crafty Player, has been left to his New York-based assistant, Juan Rodriguez. But instead of having Rodriguez go through the hassle of being licensed in Minnesota, Dutrow sought out a local trainer.

"One of the guys in the racing office referred him to me because of Itsallinthechase," a colt that Brown ran in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and 2002 Kentucky Derby. "I guess my credentials were good enough for Dutrow to say, 'I'll take him.' "

* Big mutuels are commonplace to the Claiming Crown. In the six-year history (37 races), here are some of the average payoffs on $2 wagers: win, $17.80; exacta, $127; trifecta, $1,732.40; superfecta, $6,526.60; and pick three, $1,176.20.