12/17/2007 1:00AM

Trainer profile: Eberd Estrada

EmailEberd Estrada began training in 2005, and with a string of just 15 at Philadelphia Park right now, he has managed to put up strong numbers. With his first 181 starters this year, he won 35 races, with a 44-percent in-the-money rate and a positive $2.09 return on investment.

Estrada, 39, originally from Peru, came to the United States in 1995 and rode for about eight years before becoming a trainer. Many have followed the same career path, often without success. Estrada, however, is of the belief his prior career will only help him.

"To be on my horses now in the morning, and to be able to feel my horses and know not only if something is wrong but to know exactly where it is and then fix it - that's a big help for me," said Estrada, who won with 9 of 61 starters in 2005 and followed it with a 15-for-97 record last year.

"I've been given a nice chance at Philadelphia Park with a couple of owners that have given me an opportunity, and we've put in a lot of work."

Estrada has expanded his stable largely by claiming, acquiring 10 horses in that fashion in 2007. Several of them have been successful, including Mt. Splendor, Royal Brandy, and Star Snuck. Royal Brandy, no longer in the barn, dominated in two wins, including one in allowance company, after she was claimed by Estrada for $16,000 in June.

"In claiming, I go to the paddock and take a look and try to get something I like," Estrada said. "Obviously, we'll look for something we think we can make money with. With Mt. Splendor, we dropped in class off the claim and got a win and got our money back. Star Snuck, we took her for $15,000 and she was good enough to win for $25,000 - she's doing good for us."

Estrada's greatest success came with Raging Rapids, winner of a $100,000 restricted stakes at Philadelphia in July.

"She was just a very nice filly, the best filly I've ever had," Estrada said. "I only had her in the barn for a couple of months, but it was nice to have her."

Estrada hopes his business will continue to grow, and with strong numbers in most categories, that appears a very attainable goal.

"I hope to get better and better horses in the barn," Estrada said. "This is a very tough business, and you really have to work hard and stay on top of things in order to get better horses."

One of Estrada's best right now could be Pete's Wonder, a 3-year-old colt he claimed for $25,000 in October. Pete's Wonder has flashed speed and weakened in a pair of starts for Estrada since the claim, but his back class and zip merit plenty of respect this winter at Philadelphia Park. J. P. West, a proven filly with seven wins, recently returned to the workout tab and is another to follow when she returns to the races off a layoff.