10/31/2003 1:00AM

With recent win, 'Jack' is back


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Original One, the Fort's champion distance horse last year, ran eight times before recording his first 2003 victory here Oct. 19.

He will try to make it two in a row on Sunday.

"It was a flashback to last year," said trainer John Simms of the wire-to-wire 3 1/4-length win. "He ran huge, awesome, almost as if in hand the whole race.

"He's back to where he was at the end of last year when he was beating horses like Chris's Bad Boy [Fort Erie's horse of year] and that type. He was a monster."

Original One, affectionately called "Jack" or "Jackie" because he has only one eye, is one of the Fort's most popular runners.

"When Jackie entered the test barn everyone applauded," said Simms. "He was the talk of the track for the next couple of days."

Original One came to Simms's barn in the spring of 2001 as a 5-year-old maiden who had raced at Woodbine and Philadelphia Park. Jockeys weren't keen to stick with Original One since he had his head tilted much of the time.

Simms convinced jockey Lisa Hammett to take on Original One as a project in the mornings. Original One scored the first time she was in the saddle in the afternoon.

Hammett was aboard for all five wins recorded by Original One in 2001. She was sidelined by an injury much of last year but partnered Original One in the last three of his five victories.

Original One was in another barn at the beginning of this year.

Simms claimed the runner on Sept. 6 for $14,000 for client Tom Grimes. Forty-three days later, Hammett and Jackie were in the winner's circle again.

Villeneuve in top form

Francine Villeneuve, Canada's winningest woman rider ever, scored with three of her four mounts on Tuesday to pull six wins ahead of Neil Poznansky in their battle for second place in the standings.

With 83 wins here, and three at Woodbine, Villeneuve, 39, is having her best season. One of the Woodbine scores was the Frost King Stakes, captured by the Jim Day-trained Copper Trail, who also won the Juvenile here at Fort Erie. Villeneuve was scheduled to ride Copper Trail in Saturday's $250,000 Coronation Futurity at Woodbine.

Villeneuve, an Ottawa native, is to wed blacksmith Bruce Anderson on Nov. 22. They are looking to buy a farm in Florida, where they will reside in the winter. Villeneuve plans to resume riding here in the spring.

Alexander planning return

Trainer Bruce Alexander, who moved his operation from Finger Lakes to Fort Erie for the 2003 season, plans to return here next year with a stable of around 20 runners, a few more than this year. The purse structure here is almost double that of Finger Lakes.

With 19 wins, Alexander is 10th in the trainer standings heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Still, Alexander, 48, expressed some disappointment in his season.

"I would have liked to have gotten another 30 starts from my horses," he said. "I had a lot of horses I couldn't run regularly, particularly the grass horses. Weather was a big contributor to less-than-desirable track conditions much of the year."