12/08/2004 1:00AM

Serey could be back by spring


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After not training horses for nearly three years, Juan Serey is three months away from getting his career back.

Serey, the leading trainer in New York in 2000, had his license reinstated by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Tuesday. Before he can resume training, however, Serey must serve a 90-day suspension and pay a $2,000 fine for two medication positives dating back five years.

That suspension began on Wednesday and will run through March 7. Thereafter, Serey could return to training. Serey, 54, has not started a horse since April 18, 2002.

"It's an early Christmas present,'' said Karen Murphy, Serey's attorney. "That's what Juan Serey does, train racehorses, I'm glad we got it done.''

Serey could not be reached for comment.

Serey had his license revoked by the board on June 24, 2003, due in part to a dispute in New Jersey with his brother, Mario. Juan Serey had been found guilty by a Camden County Court jury of breach of contract and negligence and was ordered to pay his brother $450,000 in damages. The jury ruled that Juan Serey unlawfully removed $300,000 from Mario Serey's horsemen's account at Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands and transferred 14 horses into his own name.

Juan Serey later filed for bankruptcy and the bankruptcy court discharged the monetary damages he owed his brother. The court also ruled that Mario Serey could not bring up this case again in the future.

According to Murphy, Serey met with board officials about restating his New York license on Sept. 3, but the license was not granted until Tuesday.

Serey led all New York Racing Association trainers in wins in 2000 with 80. Among his top horses was Say Florida Sandy, who preceded Funny Cide as the top New York-bred money-earner.

Serey, who won five training titles at Monmouth Park in the 1990's, is currently working on a farm in West Virginia, according to Murphy. Before that, Serey worked in West Virginia for Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable, which had horses running at Charles Town.

Nelson still has the fire

Diane Nelson was going through a couple of boxes in her home Tuesday night when she came across one with her press clippings from days gone by.

"It got me all pumped up reading it all,'' said Nelson, who was twice the leading jockey at Rockingham Park in the late 1980's and was the regular rider of multiple stakes winners Its Academic, Lottsa Talc, and Boom Towner on this circuit.

Nelson, 38, is hoping she can pump up her business this winter. Healthy in body and spirit, Nelson is looking to jump-start a career during which she has won 1,084 races. Nelson has often done well during this time of year, but missed last winter after suffering a broken ankle in October 2003.

Nelson has only had 49 mounts this year, and most of them have been longshots. She gave an all-out effort in Sunday's nightcap aboard Sir Tyler T, who finished fourth, beaten two lengths, at 54-1.

"I actually left there feeling pretty good,'' Nelson said. "In the past I'd have been mad that I got beat. I'm going to keep that positive attitude I have. That's how you win on longshots and that's what I'm going to have to do.''

While Nelson has her health and a positive attitude, she doesn't have an agent. She must sell herself, something she admits is not her strong point.

"The worst thing about me is pitching myself. I have to get better at that,'' Nelson said.

Ebony Breeze tops stakes probables

Ebony Breeze, winner of the Grade 3 Endine Handicap in September, tops the field of fillies and mares expected to run in Saturday's $75,000 Garland of Roses Handicap at six furlongs.

Ebony Breeze, trained by Bill Mott, is coming off subpar efforts in her two most recent efforts. On Oct. 10, she stumbled at the start and finished fourth behind Lady Tak in the Gallant Bloom Handicap. On Oct. 30, she finished fifth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, in the Witches Brew Stakes on turf at The Meadowlands.

Arthur Tsiamis, assistant to Mott, said Ebony Breeze's last start was better than it may look on paper.

"She came flying, she ran well, she showed us she's still awake,'' Tsiamis said.

Ebony Breeze was assigned high weight of 121 pounds and will be ridden by Mike Luzzi. Others expected to run include Cologny (119 pounds), Forest Music (118), Travelator (116), and Sensibly Chic (114). Distinctive Kitten (113) and Wallop (113) are possible.

- Luzzi, 2 for 23 since coming back from a broken leg last month, won four races from six mounts on Wednesday's card. He took the opener aboard New York Cat ($9.50), the fifth on Garrett's Girl ($4), the seventh on Santa Croce ($16.40), and eighth on Way to the Top ($7).