09/26/2001 11:00PM

Turnaround for Vanier


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - A couple of months ago, when things were at their darkest in the Harvey Vanier barn, Wednesday's sixth race would have had a different outcome. No Dice would have battled along the rail in the $18,000 claiming race, narrowly edging the pair of horses to his outside - then he would have been disqualified for coming out inside the sixteenth pole and interfering with his opponents.

But Wednesday, after a long inquiry, the Arlington stewards made a tough call and left No Dice's number up, giving the resurgent Vanier barn another win here.

"Thank goodness things have picked up," said Brian Williamson, Vanier's assistant and son-in-law.

On the racetrack, bad luck seems to feed on itself. A little losing streak suddenly becomes a dry month, then a bad year. That's the way things went for Vanier's stable this season, which sputtered in Florida, Kentucky, and Chicago this winter and spring, and failed to spark to life during the first part of the Arlington meet: On July 18, the barn had won twice from 57 starters. That's a stunning total for the 76-year-old Vanier, who has won seven Arlington training titles, including five straight between 1993 and 1997.

Vanier's stock finally began to awaken in August, and his horses have generally been running well in the last few weeks. But Williamson doesn't attribute the dry spell entirely to luck. "Really, I think we might've had some virus going around," he said.

"We had a bunch of 2-year-olds that got sick and snotty," said Williamson. "The older horses didn't have any snot, didn't back off their feed then they'd run, we'd scope them when they came back and they'd be full of mucus. That's what I think it's been. Nothing else has really changed."

The Vanier barn is coming on too late to contend for the trainer's title, but has reached sixth in the standings as of Thursday with 16 wins at the meet. Jerry Hollendorfer continues lead the standings with 28 wins, seven more than Wayne Catalano and eight more than Chris Block.

Double Zero Seven sidelined

Double Zero Seven, the reformed claimer who won the Spectacular Bid Stakes here for his fourth straight win, was withdrawn from the Arlington-Washington Futurity when he injured himself during a workout earlier this week.

"He came up with a little problem," said trainer Angel Montano. "I worked him the other day and he didn't come back 100 percent. We're going to give him a little time."

Montano and owner Larry Telle claimed Double Zero Seven for $25,000 at Churchill early this summer, and after losing his first start for them, Double Zero Seven won four races in a row, including an overnight stakes here and the Spectacular Bid, the prep for the Futurity.