08/26/2005 12:00AM

'Roman' tries to rebound


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Although Roman Romance finished second in the 1 1/16-mile Golden Horseshoe Cup here two weeks ago, it was a clunker of a race for her Beyer-wise.

A winner of eight races and more than $500,000, Roman Romance received a modest 59 Beyer when beaten 1 3/4 lengths in a weak and small field as the odds-on favorite. She has routinely posted Beyers in the 80's in sprints and in the upper 70's when going a route.

Sunday at Fort Erie, Roman Romance will be out to make amends in the Longshots OTB Cup, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares which is the sixth of eight Cup races held this summer for runners that have had at least two previous starts at the meet. The series of $30,000 Cup races ends on Labor Day with the Centre Stage Anne and the Puss N Boots.

Trainer John Simms isn't pointing any fingers, but said he feels Roman Romance's chances were compromised when she was within two lengths of the early lead.

"She was sitting on the outside, third," said Simms. "That was too close. And on the backside she was too close. I knew then we were in trouble. She should have been in the back relaxing.

"Maybe it was because she was coming off a short race she got herself in that position. I hope Roman can handle going short again after the two-turn race."

Simms will saddle a second runner, Huckleberry's Gal, in the Longshots OTB. Huckleberry's Gal won an allowance race in her last start Aug. 16.

"I'm not counting her out. She has got a big shot too," Simms said of Huckleberry's Gal.

Blue Ridge Linda, a winner of 8 of 20 lifetime, is likely to vie for favoritism with Roman Romance. The 4-year-old Blue Ridge Linda has won five of her last six races run at the Fort since June 2004. In her loss, the jockey lost his irons and she did not finish.

"She has done everything we asked of her this year," said Blue Ridge Linda's owner, Mike Barkowski. "She has won on the dirt and she has won long, going on the grass. But this is her preferred distance - she likes six or 6 1/2 furlongs. She's a nice closer."