10/16/2008 11:00PM

Vyliena could contend as a Fantasy longshot


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Vyliena figures to be a big price when she runs in the $100,000 Fantasy Stakes next Saturday. Her trainer, Nancy Betts, rarely runs a horse out of line, however, and she really likes the way Vyliena is coming up to the race.

"It's a tough spot, but she's pretty tough herself," said Betts. "I wouldn't keep her in here and waste Jimmy's time and my own time if I didn't think she wasn't going to put in a huge effort."

Betts was referring to James Veitch, who claimed Vyliena for $20,000 out of a maiden race she won on Sept. 14. In Vyliena's first start for her new connections, she finished second by a neck in a $25,000 claiming race on Sept. 26.

Betts, 40, began training on her own in 1999. She has 26 wins from 161 horses for a commendable 17 percent winners.

Betts, who exercises her own horses, was born in Essex, England, where she learned to ride.

"I did a lot of horse shows, jumping, three-day eventing, and dressage," she said. "I always wanted to do something with horses, and I just had to figure out a way to make some money."

Her first exposure to Thoroughbreds was through her grandparents, who took her to Newmarket.

"My grandfather was a blacksmith and he really enjoyed the horses," she said. "During the war he looked after the corporal's horses, so I do have a bit of a horsey background."

When Betts's parents relocated to Canada, they eventually settled in Langley, a suburb of Vancouver, where Betts began galloping race horses.

One of the people she connected with was trainer Lorne Richards, now a trainer at Woodbine.

"I learned a lot from Lorne," she said. "I learned to be patient and not to overtrain a horse. I never want to overdo something and then regret it later. You can't take it back once you've done too much. I am also picky like he is, and I like everything a certain way."

Betts has started only one stakes horse in her career, but she had experience with quality horses when she worked for Richards.

"She did a great job with Westchester Lane and Markmydreams," said Richards. "She's very knowledgeable and you can't find a more dedicated person."

Betts has never had more than a few horses in her barn, and the main reason is her two children, Justin, 20, and Jessica, 8.

"The kids are my top priority," said Betts. "Justin plays baseball and I had to drag him around quite a bit when he was younger. Jessica keeps me pretty busy now."

Justin doesn't just play baseball, he's very good at it. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays this year but opted to stay in school at the University of Oklahoma.

"He's kind of regretting he didn't sign with the Blue Jays, but he'll be eligible for the draft again next year," said Betts.

As well as being a mom and a horse trainer, Betts also has a job working four days a week in the customer relations department at the newly opened slots area at Hastings.

"I'm not used to working indoors, but it's a nice change for me," she said. "It's also nice to see for my own eyes something that is going to help improve purses and be beneficial for everybody here. I couldn't do everything I am doing without the support I get from my husband, Dominic. He really pitches in and helps out with everything."

P. S. Good N Ready should go favored

The horse they all have to beat in the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy is P. S. Good N Ready. Trained by Cindy Krasner, P. S. Good N Ready is coming off an easy win in the $107,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity on Oct. 4 and will be heavily favored in the Fantasy. According to Krasner, P. S. Good N Ready is coming up to the race in excellent shape.

"All is well despite some of the rumors floating around," said Krasner. "I actually heard someone say they saw her loading onto a van. Another one was that she was sick with the virus. All lies. She's going well and she is going to breeze this weekend."

Krasner isn't counting the money just yet, though.

"I would assume she'll be the favorite, but we're all in the same boat," she said. "None of us really know if they can go long. She's bred to get the distance, so I'm hopeful that she can."

While a lot of trainers are looking forward to the meet's end on Nov. 2, it isn't surprising that Krasner, who is having the best year in her career, would like to keep going.

"It's hard to stop when you're on a roll like this," she said.

Krasner, who is a board member of the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said that all of her horses will be turned out for the winter. The only plans she has made for herself is a trip to Florida for an HBPA meeting in January.