09/23/2003 11:00PM

Tough end to a great season


EDMONTON, Alberta - By all accounts, it has been a highly successful season for trainer Ron Grieves.

Heading into Friday evening's card at Northlands Park, Grieves is the second-leading trainer in Alberta in 2003, with 41 wins, and needs just two more wins in the final 18 days to set a personal best.

On the other hand, with the summer meet winding down Grieves is awaiting an answer from veterinarians on whether Sly Lady, the star of his stable and possibly the best horse in Alberta this year, will ever race again.

Sly Lady, a 4-year-old filly, was one of the most dominant horses in Alberta before developing a breathing problem in early July. Despite her discomfort, Sly Lady won the $40,000 John Patrick on July 19, but was scratched from the $40,000 Madamoiselle three weeks later.

In Sly Lady's last start, the $75,000 Edmonton Distaff Aug. 23, she was noticeably affected by the breathing problem and was eased up down the lane. And now, Sly Lady, a winner of $181,440 lifetime, is about to undergo an operation to remove a cyst from her throat. Grieves said there's a chance she won't race again.

"It will be a huge disappointment if she doesn't come back because you just don't replace horses like that," Grieves said. "Right now, [the veterinarians] really don't know what the outcome will be."

Although Grieves could lose one of his favorite horses, he admits it has still been an enjoyable season.

"I've kind of gone flat here, but it's been a great success," he said. "I guess it's a matter of whether you want to look at it as half-full or half-empty."