12/05/2007 12:00AM

Tiller's success comes under radar

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - A Woodbine watcher could not be blamed for thinking this has been a rather quiet season for trainer Bob Tiller.

A look at the numbers, however, suggests otherwise.

Heading into the last five days of the meeting, Tiller had sent out 52 winners, ensuring a finish of no worse than third in races won and within hailing distance of Sid Attard's second-place total of 56. Tiller's total purse earnings of $2.37 million ranked fourth best.

"I think we've had a great year for the kind of stock we've had," Tiller said. "We didn't have a lot of quality horses. In this game you can be a great coach, but if you don't have any great players, you've got to make the best of what you've got."

Tiller's only stakes winners this year were Dave the Knave and Dancer's Bajan.

Dave the Knave, an Ontario-sired 5-year-old gelding, captured the six-furlong New Providence but later was claimed away for $40,000.

Dancer's Bajan defeated fellow Ontario-sired runners in both the seven-furlong Deputy Minister for 3-year-olds and the seven-furlong Overskate for 3-year-olds and upward.

Dancer's Bajan, a gelding who races for 3 Sons Racing Stable, will attempt to add to his credentials in Saturday's $125,000 Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

"He's a very good come-from-behind sprinter," said Tiller, who watched Dancer's Bajan end just 3 3/4 lengths back as the seventh-place finisher in the six-furlong Kennedy Road here Nov. 18.

"That race was too short for him and the track was lightning-fast," he added. "He likes 6 1/2 furlongs or seven furlongs, but he did win at a mile and a sixteenth at about this time last year.

"He's in good order. We might as well give it a last kick at the can."

Dancer's Bajan's first try around two turns came in the 1 1/16-mile Kingarvie for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds here last Dec. 2.

His only other attempt was a sixth-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial this June, which dissuaded Tiller from continuing on the Queen's Plate trail.

Tiller figures to claim more in '08

Tiller has not been a frequent participant in the claiming game in recent years but indicates that could change in 2008.

"I like to buy horses, go to the sales, and develop them," Tiller said. "That's worked well for us.

"But I think we need to get back into the claiming game. We need to be more aggressive; everybody claims off us."

Tiller claimed just five horses this year, including Slippery Butter, a 2-year-old filly that was haltered for $40,000 on Nov. 15 and was in the entries Wednesday night; High Table, a 4-year-old gelding was reclaimed for $50,000 on Sept. 2; and Norbrook, a 4-year-old filly who was acquired for $25,000 on July 4.

Tiller believes the competition at Woodbine has gotten tougher across the board, with an influx of U.S. trainers and owners chasing the strong Canadian dollar.

"The way it is now, Woodbine is a very tough place to win races with the American dollar and the American owners that have moved in here," Tiller said. "It's much tougher for Canadian-based owners and trainers to make a living. I strongly believe Canadian owners need more of a break, in tax relief."

Landry heading to Florida for winter

The early onset of winter here has brought visions of Florida dancing into the heads of shivering horsepeople.

And one jockey who soon who will be heading south is Robert Landry. Landry will make his annual sojourn to the Sunshine State following the holiday season.

Rather than focusing on any one racing or training locale in Florida, Landry plans to continue his unofficial "have tack will travel" service.

"I'll ride at Gulfstream and Tampa, and go to Palm Meadows, Ocala, Palm Beach Downs, Payson Park [to gallop]," Landry said. "I gave everybody my number, and whoever needs me can call me."

In the meantime, Landry will look to close out the Woodbine meeting on a high note when he rides Bold Finish in Saturday's Sir Barton and Above Spirit in Sunday's Valedictory.

Bold Finish, a homebred 5-year-old gelding owned by his breeder, Bill Diamant, and trained by Phil Gracey, will be looking for his first stakes score in the Sir Barton.

"It seems since the Polytrack came in, he's turned into a pretty nice horse," said Landry, who has ridden Bold Finish to 3 wins and 10 in-the-money finishes in 12 outings on the artificial surface. "He's got a lot of try in him; he just goes out there and gives you everything he's got all the time.

"It's funny because he'll work five furlongs in, like, 1:05," he said. "It's just amazing. You sit on a horse like that in the morning and work him you say, 'Oh, boy.' "

Above Spirit, a 4-year-old colt owned by Stronach Stable and trained by Sean Smullen, makes his stakes debut in the $125,000 Valedictory, a 1 3/4-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward.

Landry has ridden Above Spirit to 1 win and 4 in-the-money finishes in 5 outings here this season, with the latest a second behind the talented but enigmatic Pellegrino in the 1 1/2-mile allowance prep for the Valedictory here Nov. 16.

"He ran a really good race in the prep, the way he was closing on end," Landry said. "I was getting to Pellegrino, and we are going a little further on Sunday.

"If we get the same type of trip, I think we'll be very contentious."

Casse sends Turf War in Delta Jackpot

Turf War, trained by Mark Casse, has been entered in Friday's Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs in Louisiana.

Calvin Borel has the mount on Turf War, who will break from post 9 in the field of 10.

Turf War won the seven-furlong Swynford here Oct. 8 but then finished last of six as the odds-on choice in the Grade 3 Grey at 1 1/16 miles in his last start on Oct. 8.