10/26/2004 12:00AM

Weekend of winners for Bell


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Considering the circumstances, trainer David Bell won as many races here as he could have last weekend.

Bell did send out one loser, Vincita, who finished sixth in Saturday's $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, but he also trains the Princess Elizabeth winner, Victorious Ami.

On Sunday, Bell recorded back-to-back longshot scores with his only two starters: Synful Charm took the day's second race, a maiden $32,000 claimer, and I Thee Wed won the third, the $282,750 Highlander Handicap.

Victorious Ami was making her fourth career start in the Princess Elizabeth, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies.

After finishing a closing second in her debut, which came over five furlongs, Victorious Ami ran second to Simply Lovely in the Muskoka, a seven-furlong yearling sales stakes.

But in her third start, Victorious Ami finished 11th in a maiden special over one mile on the turf course.

Bell said Victorious Ami found herself pinned down on the inside in that race, and that he believes inexperience, not the move to turf, proved to be Victorious Ami's undoing.

In the Princess Elizabeth, Victorious Ami prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths under regular rider Emile Ramsammy.

The $150,000 Ontario Lassie, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies here Dec. 5, would be the next appropriate target for Victorious Ami but is not on her agenda.

"We're going to turn her out," said Bell. "She's a great big filly, and I don't want to keep pounding on her just to run her one more time."

Synful Charm, who returned $60.60 in her first lifetime start Sunday, was a "big surprise," according to Bell, who also owns the filly in partnership with CEC Stable. "I own half of her, so I thought we'd give her a race or two."

I Thee Wed, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred owned and bred by Josephine Abercrombie's Pin Oak Stable, became a stakes winner while trying six furlongs on turf for the first time in the Nearctic.

Although I Thee Wed had a good record at seven furlongs on grass and was entering the Nearctic off a third-level allowance score at that trip, the cutback in distance was a major reason for his 26-1 price. He rallied strongly to get up in the final strides under regular rider Jim McAleney.

"He wants to go a little further," said Bell. "I thought if the race set up, with a lot of speed and with the course having a bit of give to it, he could get there."

Bell said he is not sure what is next for I Thee Wed, but he believes I Thee Wed is equally effective on the main track.

"He's just one of those horses who's very versatile," said Bell. "He just kind of started to come into his own. He's maturing well."

The weekend stakes wins were the second and third of the meeting for Bell, who sent out Black Rock Road to win the $165,600 Carotene here Oct. 9.

A homebred 3-year-old filly who races for Eugene and Laura Melnyk, Black Rock Road recorded her third win in as many career starts in the Carotene, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Black Rock Road will probably try to extend that streak in the Grade 3, $150,000 Mrs. Revere Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs on Nov. 13.

"I think she deserves a shot at a graded stakes," said Bell. "Then we'll put her away for the winter, and she'll come back next year."

Burke to become jockey agent

Ron Burke is trading in his trainer's license for a jockey agent's license, effective Nov. 1.

Burke will be booking mounts for journeyman Richard Dos Ramos, who had been represented by Lorne Spearman for the past eight years.

"It's been in the works for the past month," said Burke of the career change. "I just was thinking I'd been training since 1981, and this year hasn't been the best of luck for me. Basically, all my owners said they were sorry, but they wished me well."

Burke, 52, was born in Barbados and worked as an assistant trainer here before beginning the Canadian phase of his training career in Alberta, where he spent five seasons.

Some of the best horses that were trained here by Burke include Incitatus, a Barbadian-bred who was a graded stakes winner on grass in 1999 and 2000; Irish Fury, winner of the Victoria Park in 1999; and Whomsoever Proud, who upset the Valedictory in 1996.

Burke still has four horses in his care here and has entered the maiden claimer Guineaman in a race Thursday and hopes to be represented by the maiden Rouge Stone on Friday.

He also has a pair of 2-year-olds, owned by Oxbridge Farm who will be going to trainer Peter Berringer.

Burke said he is looking forward to his new role with Dos Ramos, but he is not ruling out a return to the training game in the future.

"You don't forget anything," said Burke. "A break's good for everybody, sometime. You come back with a fresh outlook."

Spearman, who said the parting with Dos Ramos was "amicable," represents leading apprentice jockey Corey Fraser.

Dos Ramos, 42, began his career in Ontario in 1981 and had ridden 1,898 winners heading into this week's action.