05/11/2007 11:00PM

Rombis, Sealock off to good start after shortened ’06


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Trainer Debbie Rombis and jockey Regina Sealock, who both had their 2006 seasons cut short because of injury, got off to promising starts here opening week.

Rombis saddled one horse, Souvenier Biz, on the May 5 opening-day card. Souvenier Biz, won in the time of 51.70 seconds, bettering the 4 1/2-furlong track record of 51.80.

Rombis fractured her tailbone and broke her pelvis in three places when a horse reared and toppled onto her as they were leaving the track's sand ring last June 3. She required surgery and was hospitalized for two months.

Her barn eked out just three 2006 wins at the Fort. In 2005, Rombis won 11 races and in 2004 she had 20 wins.

"I'm definitely, definitely, much better, but not 100 percent," said Rombis, an ex-jockey. "I'm still in a lot of pain. I can walk good, but I can't run or jog without a very noticeable stride shortage."

In preparation for the Fort Erie season, Rombis registered three wins at Mountaineer Park and one at Woodbine.

Sealock is off to a decent start here, scoring with Mountain Stroll ($37.20) on opening day and then with Our Day ($19.50) last Tuesday.

The wins were the first for Sealock since she broke a heel in three places when she was tossed by her mount following a race Aug. 13. It wasn't until November that Sealock was able to begin getting back on horses.

"I went to Tampa in the winter," said Sealock. "I always go and just gallop there and maybe ride a few races, just to stay fit."

Sealock, who has been riding since 1985, is nearing 700 career wins. Until Francine Villeneuve passed her in 2002, Sealock was the all-time winningest female jockey in Canada.

First win for John Attfield

John Attfield scored his first wins as a trainer on opening day.

In the meet's first race, Attfield saddled Go Get Him Bull for a third-place finish. His other two entrants, Gold Max ($7.90), and Explosive Trial ($29.90), each won.

Attfield, who was licensed in late September, had only four starters in 2006, resulting in two third-place finishes.

Attfield, 41, came to Canada from England when he was 17 and started to work as a groom for his father, Roger Attfield, the Canadian Hall of Fame trainer. He soon moved on to Maryland to gain more experience and worked for Mikey Smithwick, whom he described as an incredible horseman.

Later, Attfield returned to Europe, where he pursed other interests but also served stints with some European trainers.

"I worked for Guy Howard and Andre Fabre for about three to four years," said Attfield. "I think Fabre is possibly the best racehorse trainer in the world."

Johnston out to early lead

Robert Johnston leads the trainer standings with three wins after the first three days of the meeting. All were for his new client, Herbert Chambers.

The Chamber runners that don't fit at Woodbine are sent here to Johnston. Johnston, who became a licensed trainer last year, won with 25 percent of his 48 starters in 2006.