09/28/2001 11:00PM

Soil added to soften main track at Ft. Erie

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FORT ERIE, Ont. - Trainers have expressed relief that a long overdue problem at Fort Erie has been addressed. The track surface was too hard and it was tough on then horses.

On Sept. 12 some 700 tons of soil was added to the surface, adding five- eighths of an inch atop the old surface.

"It was badly needed," said trainer Nick Gonzalez. "It seems to have slowed the times down a little. There's more cushion. The horses were getting a little worn out from running on it. And it wasn't just my particular stable and horses. I've talked to a lot of the trainers about it. We've complained all year. It's taken its toll on our older horses.

"Ralph Biamonte told me he had 20 2-year-olds in training and that only two of them have made the races," Gonzalez said. "I had eight 2-year-olds and one has made the races. With the hard track the horses were coming up with bucked shins and other problems."

The speed of surface was evident all summer long. On July 8 Rebuffed won a $14,000 claiming race at six furlongs in 1:09.2, the the fastest time at the distance in eight years and two ticks off the record of 1:09 set by Jolly Mariner in 1984. On Sept.9, Deputy Carson set a record, shaving a fifth of a second off the 1984 mark. Two days later, Dimanno equaled the track record of 1:42.1 for 1 1/16 miles. That record had been set by Chatty Cavalier

30 years ago.

*Chris Tuttle saddled four winners at Fort Erie on Tuesday.