06/21/2004 11:00PM

Two new trainers break from gate


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Everybody has to start somewhere. For David Fortner and John Fahey III, "somewhere" is in the obscurity of the Trackside training facility, where both men have started small stables in the hopes of someday reaching the heights attained by trainers for whom they labored for so long.

Fortner, 43, worked for Elliott Walden for 12 years before opening a public stable last winter. Fahey, 26, worked for D. Wayne Lukas for eight years and for Steve Asmussen for the last two years before being hired last month as private trainer for Don Dizney's Double Diamond Stable.

Last weekend, Fortner gained the second triumph of his career when a promising 3-year-old filly named Teenage Temper drove to victory in an entry-level allowance at Churchill Downs. Fahey has had just one starter, but one winner: Elwah, who scored an 11-1 upset in a conditioned claiming race June 11 at Churchill.

Fortner, a Cincinnati native, said he left a "safe, secure job" as Walden's assistant and has "really enjoyed it. There's more to starting your own business than I'd thought, but this is what I chose for myself."

Fortner has seven horses among five clients, including Mark Stanley, a Lexington businessman who owns Teenage Temper after previously racing such top horses as Ecton Park and Pleasant Temper with Walden.

Fahey, born and raised in Louisville, currently has 12 horses for Dizney, a Florida breeder who was looking for a young and relatively unproven trainer at roughly the same time Fahey stopped working for Asmussen.

"I had some friends at Taylor Made who gave Mr. Dizney my name, and after a couple of interviews, I flew down to Florida to meet with him," Fahey said. "I was hired May 20."

Fahey is widely known on the backstretch as "Big John," a nickname that came from a confused a pony girl, who was scheduled to take Elwah to the post before his win. "She said she didn't know my whole name," he said. "I told her she wasn't going to find a 'Big John' on the overnight."

Both Fortner and Fahey are looking to pick up momentum in the coming weeks and months. Fortner said the Ellis Park meet that begins July 7 hopefully will raise his profile because Teenage Temper will run in the Audubon Oaks at that meet, while Fahey said he plans to run as many as seven horses before the Churchill meet ends July 5.

"After working for someone else for so long, it's exciting to be on my own," Fahey said.

Locust Grove field takes shape

Churchill officials are expecting a medium-sized field of fillies and mares for the single stakes of the coming weekend, the $150,000 Locust Grove Handicap on Saturday.

Probables for the Grade 3 Locust Grove, a 1 1/8-mile turf race, include Sand Springs, Riskaverse, Shaconage, Chance Dance, Ocean Silk, and Two Dot Slew.

Shaconage was one of 13 horses to work over a firm Churchill turf course Tuesday morning. She got a half-mile in 50.20 seconds.

* Trainer Walt Bindner Jr. said Colonial Colony, winner of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at 62-1 on June 12, will be considered for the July 3 Suburban at Belmont, although the Cornhusker Breeders' Cup at Prairie Meadows the same day remains more likely. A good effort in either race would get Colonial Colony to the Aug. 7 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.

* Kentucky Horse Racing Authority chairman Bill Street said Monday at the board's regularly scheduled meeting in Lexington that the nationwide search for a new executive director has narrowed and that an announcement may be forthcoming by early July. The KHRA has been searching for an executive director and chief steward since Bernie Hettel resigned from both positions under pressure in January.