08/18/2004 11:00PM

Shacane back from injury

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The last time Shacane ran in an actual race was in the fall of 2002, when he beat Futural in the Grade 3 Premiers. That win combined with two other stakes wins earlier in the meet brought his record to five wins from seven starts and helped him earn the local 3-year-old title. He'll make his return this Saturday in the Hastings Speed Handicap.

Following Shacane's win in the Premiers, he was sent to Southern California where, according to his assistant trainer, Mark Cloutier, he landed next to Azeri in Laura de Seroux's shed row. Shacane was kept in serious training, but de Seroux had a hard time finding a race for him.

"We were keeping a close watch on him and it seemed like he was working every five days or so but he never got to run," said Cloutier, who is the assistant to his wife, Toni. "Finally they entered him in a stakes race at Hollywood Park but he was scratched. Unfortunately he bowed a tendon and he had to be turned out."

His owners, Maryl and Paul Shatzko, who race as Bellevue Oaks, decided to try a new procedure called stem-cell therapy to try and heal the bowed tendon. In Shacane's case they extracted stem cells from his body and injected them into his tendon. It seems to have worked, and Cloutier is hoping to find out exactly how far along Shacane has come when he runs Saturday.

"We certainly don't think that he's going to win the race," he said. "He's perfectly sound, and although we've taken it pretty easy on him, we've put a good bottom into him. But when they have been away for this long, you never really know how competitive they'll be when they actually run. This is more of a 'Let's see how far he's really come and then we'll take it from there.' "

Cloutier is looking at the Premiers as a major goal.

"We know he'll go that far, and since it's almost two months away we should have plenty of time to get him ready for the race," he said. "But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's just see how he runs on Saturday first."

From office manager to owner

For 11 years, Lori Marsh helped hold the Hastings racing office together. Her title when she left the office a few years ago was racing office manager, but she also acted as assistant racing secretary and did whatever was needed to run the office.

When Marsh decided on a career change, she moved into the insurance business and landed a job with Lynn Whyte. Besides running a successful insurance company, Whyte puts together syndicates for people interested in owning horses. He hooked Marsh up with seven other people, and while their first horse, My Spitfire, didn't work out, they claimed Rules of War for $15,000 out of his debut race May 24. Following his sharp front-running win in a $50,000 optional race last Saturday, he could be headed to the B.C. Derby. Marsh and her friends run under Lucky 8 Racing Stables, and their trainer, Rob Gilker, picked out Rules of War.

"There's a big difference between owning a horse and working at the track," said Marsh. "I had a wonderful time working in the office, but there's no comparison to the exhilaration you get owning a horse, especially when they win. I was so excited following his race on Saturday that I couldn't eat dinner. I'm just starting to settle down now. I just wish I had bet more money on him."

Gilker was pleased with the way Rules of War handled three turns for the first time, and said he would make his next start in the Richmond Derby Trial on Sept. 1.