07/26/2004 11:00PM

Walders always pick right spot


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Getting a line on shippers at Monmouth Park usually means getting an idea of how Delaware and Philadelphia Park imports fit at different class levels and figuring out a trainer's intent with a class-dropping New York shipper. That's usually about it. But when a couple of horses with Bay Meadows running lines turned up here Thursday, it was a whole new guessing game - until you realized the trainer of both horses was Peter Walder.

Walder, almost always among the top trainers here in win percentage, ended up opening and closing the card with wins by Kind Slew and Storm of the Year. Both shippers, Kind Slew and Storm of the Year were making their first starts off the claim for Marissa Lizza, principal owner of the Gold N Z Stable.

"[Trainer] Brent Sumja claimed them on behalf of the owners," said Walder. "They use the Ragozin sheets and pick out horses to claim. They live in New York, and they like Monmouth Park a lot, so they made a weekend out of it. They let Brent run them back sometimes, and sometimes we get them."

Walder and his wife, Francine, an integral part of the operation of the stable, had to figure out just where a couple of claimers from northern California fit when it came to the class levels here at Monmouth Park.

"That was a little difficult, but it's just a case of being realistic with them," he said. "I got their lifetime PP's and looked at the Beyer Figures they were earning. Kind Slew was claimed for $6,250 and the owner wanted to run him back for $6,000, but he was doing really well with us and I said, 'No, let's run him for $8,000.' Storm of the Year just lost against $16,000 maiden claimers, so what's the next logical spot? A $10,000 maiden claimer."

Storm of the Year was especially impressive in his race, winning by open lengths after a sharp move on the turn got him into contention quickly. In retrospect, he could have probably beaten better in his local debut, but that's not how the Walders operate, not with new faces or with horses they've had for some time. All of their horses are spotted where the Walders think they can win. Nothing more, nothing less.

"You only get a handful of good races a year out of a horse," Walder said.

It does seem, though, that the barn gets much more than that out of their stable, especially when the horse involved is a new addition to the barn. In fact, when it comes to winning races with recently acquired runners, there may not be a better stable in the country.

"As soon as we get a horse, we like to give them 30 days, to take blood from them, get them used to the new feed program, new blacksmith, everything," said Walder. "I like to go over them with a fine-toothed comb, because I feel like the horses are given to us so we can get them to win. So we'll do anything we can to make that horse a winner. Look at any winner's circle picture - it can be a claimer or a $100,000 race - and you'll never see anyone in the winner's circle not smiling."

Looking to jump on the bandwagon? Then keep this in mind: In addition to Kind Slew and Storm of the Year, Lizza shifted another recent Bay Meadows claim from Sumja to the Walders this spring. A gelding named Real Quiet Heath, a recent maiden winner, should be expected to turn up in a race against nonwinners of two in the near future. He may not be the last Walder ship-in to ambush the locals, but he will be the last one from northern California this year.

"We're looking all over the place," he said. "But we won't claim one from northern California while the fairs are going on. We made that mistake last year. We claimed a horse by the name of Saucy Cat at Pleasanton in June, and he was 6-5 on the morning line when we were set to run him back here. Then we found out that when you claim a horse on the fair circuit, he's 'in jail,' ineligible to run back anywhere else, until all the fairs are over - in October."