08/17/2004 11:00PM

Three vie for top jockey spot

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - The top of the jockey standings was a little crowded heading into Tuesday's card here, the last of the five-day racing week.

Last year's champion rider, Martin Ramirez, had 52 wins and was tied with Brian Bochinski and Neil Poznansky. When the day ended, Poznansky was the leader with 54 and Bochinski was next with 53.

Ramirez, a perennial contender, was blanked. All three riders have been named to five runners on Friday's card.

The three riders have had a similar number of mounts - Ramirez has had 320, Bochinski and Poznansky 319 each.

Poznansky, 32, moved his tack from Woodbine to the Fort in September of 2001 when mounts at the Toronto track were getting increasingly hard to land. Poznansky, an Edmonton native, was honored with an Eclipse Award as North America's top apprentice jockey in 1996.

Interrupted by injuries, Poznansky won only 46 races at the Fort in 2002. Last year, he had 83 wins.

Like Poznansky, Bochinski hails from Western Canada where he started his career. Bochinski was born in Winnipeg. His parents owned and trained horses at Assiniboia Downs.

Bochinski, 37, with three Assiniboia riding titles under his belt, shifted to Woodbine in 1996. He settled in at the Fort four years later.

Miss Briartic's stock rising

Trainer Denise Kennedy might have a strong hand for the 1 1/16-mile Centre Stage Anne Stakes, scheduled for the grass on the meet's closing day, Sept. 6.

Kennedy was pleased with the effort of Miss Briartic in finishing second here Tuesday in a race at one mile and 70 yards. After trailing until the stretch, Miss Briartic almost swooped the rest of the field.

"I might put [Miss Briartic] in the Centre Stage Anne," said Kennedy. "She ran so good. She loves the mud. If the race comes off the turf, it would probably be a small field."

Miss Briartic would join Anthonia, winner of the the Golden Horseshoe here Aug. 8, as an entry for the T and T Racing Team. Kennedy is sending out Anthonia for the sixth race on Friday, for a prep.

"Anthonia is such a feisty horse." said Kennedy. "She's almost harder to keep down galloping than racing. She came out of the stakes in good order. She lost a shoe. It was soft, and she ran a little cautiously."

Renovations start Sept. 7

The rebuilding of the Fort Erie racetrack will go on as scheduled, said Fort Erie director of operations Herb McGirr Sr. on Tuesday.

"We're under a directive by the Ontario Racing Commission," he said. "It's been formally presented to us and verbalized. That's the process. And that's what we are responding to, and that's what we are going to do. We will start Sept. 7."

Originally, the meet was to end on Nov. 22, but the closing was changed to Sept. 6 to add time for the project. The meet was shortened from 117 days to 81.

There will be no season-ending banquet this year. Instead, the champions of the various racing divisions will be honored on the final day of racing. Awards will be presented throughout the afternoon between races.