03/30/2010 11:00PM

U.S. trainers take what stalls they can get


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - One of the flashpoints here last spring was the expected influx of trainers from the United States who were expected to follow the example of Steve Asmussen and set up season-long divisions at Woodbine.

Much of the anticipation, and concern, over that development came to naught as expected players such as Dale Capuano and Steve Klesaris never established a presence here.

"It just didn't happen," said Steve Lym, racing secretary and a director of racing for Woodbine. "Some of them just couldn't make a go of it."

Heading into opening day of the 2010 meeting, trainers based in the United States once again are prominent on the stall list. But the players, and the program as dictated by Woodbine, have changed.

Trainers Jim Hatchett and Mike McDonald, from Florida, have been assigned 15 and 10 stalls, respectively.

Wesley Ward, whose main base also has been Gulfstream of late, has stalls for five horses.

Larry Rivelli, who will have the bulk of his horses in Illinois, has 10 stalls.

Barry Abrams, currently in Southern California, has 12 stalls and is expected by the end of the month.

Lym notes that trainer Bill Mott has been allocated 12 stalls here and plans to bring in some quality stock for Juddmonte Farm.

Rachel Halden, a former Roger Attfield assistant and a trainer in her own right here for the past two meetings, turned back her stalls this year and will be Mott's local assistant.

"This year, we've made more of an effort to check these guys out," said Lym. "We've got a well-rounded bunch coming here, and they're committed to race.

"We had to turn down a lot of people who showed a lot of interest, but didn't want to make the commitment.

"The major problem with some of the Americans has been the amount of stalls available. With 10 to 15, it's difficult, and with 30, we don't have room for them."

That is the situation faced by Hatchett and McDonald, who both have downsized their stables in order to focus exclusively on Woodbine.

"Normally, I keep quite a few more horses," said Hatchett, 65, as he prepared to head north earlier this week. "But, I'm very happy to get 10 stalls."

"Racing has been struggling down here. I really want to get started up there, build up and expand. The bottom line is the money."

One horse who could make an early splash here for Hatchett is Wildcat Frankie, a stakes-placed Florida-bred 3-year-old owned by Monarch Stables.

"He's going to be a nice horse," said Hatchett, who will send out Wildcat Frankie on Saturday in the five-furlong prep for the $150,000 Woodstock, a six-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds here April 25.

McDonald, who trained here from 1995 through 1997, plans to leave Florida on Sunday with his Woodbine-oriented string.

"I usually have 20 or 24 horses," said McDonald, 53. "But I'll try to bring some better stock and make a go at it. I'll be bringing a lot of young horses, including six 2-year-olds for Bruce Lunsford.

"I think Woodbine was the best facility I've been at in North America, and the purse structure is attractive."

Rivelli also cites the purses and the facilities as reasons for establishing his first season-long presence here.

"I'll fill my 10 stalls up as fast as I can," said Rivelli, 39, who will have another 60 horses in training at Arlington. "I'll bring as many as they let me bring there."

Rivelli experienced Woodbine for the first time when he came up with Helicopter to capture a first-level allowance route last fall.

"I love the place," said Rivelli. "There are lots of different surfaces to train on."

It may not take long for Rivelli to make his presence felt. His horse Neverguwithrichie is a leading contender in the first race.

Assistant trainer Heather Irion will handle the Rivelli outfit's day-to-day operations here.

Ward has run on a ship-in basis here in the past.

"I've had some success there, especially with early 2-year-olds," said Ward, who campaigned at Gulfstream Park this winter but has moved to Keeneland for that meeting, which also opens Friday.

"I'll be based at Keeneland to the end of July, and I thought it was a good place to exchange stalls with Woodbine when horses fit the condition book.

"With stalls on the grounds up there I'll be able to come early, and maybe get a work over the track."

Crimson Glory, an Ontario-foaled 3-year-old filly, will be Ward's first starter of the meeting as one of the top contenders in the second race.

"She's a filly I have a lot of hopes for," said Ward.

Jesus Castanon, who has ridden Crimson Glory in each of her five starts to date, has the call here Friday and will ride the two other Ward entrants on Friday's program in addition to Rivelli's two horses.

Jordan to serve 30-day ban

Trainer Terry Jordan will be serving a suspension of 30 calendar days, April 2 through May 1, due to Hollywood Hit's positive test for the Class 3 drug acepromazine following his victory in the King Corrie here last Sept. 30.

Jordan also will pay a $2,500 fine upon the completion of his ban.

His 20 horses here, including Hollywood Hit, have been transferred to trainer Danny O'Callaghan for the duration of the suspension.

Hollywood Hit, a Sovereign Award finalist for champion sprinter last year, wintered in Florida with Jordan's assistant Anita Bolton and is eyeing the $150,000 Jacques Cartier, a six-furlong stakes here April 11.

* Jockeys Chantal Sutherland, Martin Ramirez and Justin Stein all will be sitting out the first three days of the meeting due to suspensions and are eligible to return to action next Friday.

* Jennifer Morrison, who has been Woodbine's morning-line maker for the past 12 years, did not have her contract renewed this year as racing department management decided to move the function in-house. The new morning-line maker will be Ernie Peri, 39, who has been working here as a clocker and entry clerk for the past four years.