07/06/2004 11:00PM

Whitermorn has look of star

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NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Owner-trainer Stephen Ford Jr. unveiled a serious runner at Thistledown last Saturday, when first-time starter Whitermorn was the easiest kind of winner. Whitermorn won a six-furlong maiden special race by 16 lengths, going the distance in 1:10.98.

Whitermorn broke from the rail under jockey Scott Spieth and went up effortlessly to make the lead before a quarter-mile in 21.98 seconds. With Spieth sitting still, he widened his lead, turning the half-mile in 45.36 seconds, cruised past the five-furlong marker in 57.88, and then was eased through the final sixteenth to win with plenty left.

Ford, a regular here over the past 15 years, is constantly on the lookout for young horses and usually adds five or six unraced horses to his string of about 20 head each year. During the winter of 2002, he and trainer Bill Pomposelli, who breaks young horses at his farm in Florida, were on one of their scouting trips and stopped at Winner Haven Farm in Ohio.

"I was looking over the horses when a yearling running in the frozen paddock caught my eye," said Ford. "He had a very smooth way of going over the rough surface, and I asked if I could take a closer look. We agreed on a price and made a deal."

Ford did not start Whitermorn as a 2-year-old, allowing him to develop fully.

"He did everything I asked of him when I put him in training, and when I set him down to work for the first time I had to look at my watch twice," Ford said. "This year he worked a quick five furlongs and galloped out six furlongs in 1:11 and three-fifths, and I knew I had a racehorse.

Whitermorn is an Ohio-bred by Pride of Burkaan out of Coconut's Curio, by How Curious.

"I will look for a spot where he can validate that first start and then decide what to do with him," said Ford.

It's a pretty good bet that Whiter-morn will be in the Ohio stakes division before too long.

* Sometimes getting stuck in traffic is not that bad. Rick Poje from Elyria, Ohio, was in that position when he heard a Thistledown horse-giveaway commercial on local radio station WGAR.

"I called in on my cell phone and had to answer three trivia questions, and I qualified," Poje said.

In a random drawing, Poje drew the No. 6 horse in Saturday's ninth race, Chuck Yeager, who came flying down the stretch to win and make Poje the owner of Captilea - who was entered in Saturday's 11th race - for the balance of the year.

Poje was rushed to the racing office to fill out paperwork and get an owner's license. A half-hour later Captilea missed by a nose, and Poje was $1,220 richer.