10/21/2004 11:00PM

Second generation Vienna makes name for himself


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Cris Vienna has posed in the winner's circle many times.

But Wednesday's picture in the Bay Meadows winner's circle with Royal Emerald was different. This time, instead of posing alongside his father, trainer Darrell Vienna, he posed as the winning trainer after Royal Emerald ($26.40) scored a wire-to-wire victory.

Vienna, who worked "off and on" for five years for his father, got his trainer's license at Del Mar this summer. Royal Emerald was the seventh horse he started on his own.

On the previous Sunday, his horses ran third and then second, so Wednesday's victory was something of a natural progression for Vienna, who had 1 second and 3 thirds from his first six starters.

"It had been kind of a tease with those thirds and a second," Vienna said. "I thought others I'd run had better chances.

"This one had run an impressive race," he said, referring to Royal Emerald's win Sept. 22, when Vienna claimed him for $3,200, "but this was a big class jump. He had worked well, but I didn't know what he'd trained like before."

Vienna said his father actually resisted his entry into the business.

"I always wanted to work with horses, but my dad discouraged me until he realized it was a burning desire not to be an imitation of him," said Vienna, who attended Cal Poly for several years, majoring in animal science. "I had the illusion of being a cattle rancher, but they really pounded into us that you couldn't make money in the business."

While at Cal Poly, Vienna would return home on weekends and help in his father's barn when his father would head out of town with one of his top horses, such as Echo Eddie.

For the past two years, Vienna has spent much of his time handling his father's northern California string.

"Two years ago, three of us rotated, but last year, I came up and stayed," he said. "I decided to start my career here because it's an easier place to break in."

As with an assistant coach who becomes a head coach, Vienna says that being a trainer is different than being an assistant.

"I had a lot of freedom when I was here for my dad," he said. "He let me make a lot of decisions. Last year, we claimed Eric Da Bomb, and he won his next start, and my dad never saw him, but [Wednesday's] win was a lot more gratifying."

* Efrain, who won all four starts this year in his native Argentina, makes his U.S. debut in Sunday's Bay Meadows feature, a one-mile first-level allowance race. Although he is 4 for 4 this year and 10 for 23 in his career with only one off-the-board finish, Efrain qualifies for the race because of the low purses for which he ran. A 6-year-old, he apparently showed some speed in his Argentine races, but his works at Hollywood Park have been fairly slow.