06/13/2002 11:00PM

Will Shelby Madison give Cloutiers a boost?

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A win by Shelby Madison in the Liberation Stakes on Sunday at Hastings Park could provide a turning point in what has been a sad and disappointing year for Mark and Toni Jacobson Cloutier.

They lost their baby during childbirth this winter and also have had a difficult year professionally. Last year Toni finished 11th in the trainer standings with 17 wins from 74 starters and an excellent 23-percent win percentage. This year they have won a single race from 31 starts.

While the horses are listed under Toni's name, it's truly a team effort with Mark doing most of the galloping and also playing a big part in all of the decision making.

"Our horses aren't running that bad," said Mark, "but coming off of such a good year we felt that we had to protect them a little bit. We've probably run them a little higher than where they belong, but we'll begin to start dropping them into easier spots now and we should win our share."

Shelby Madison won the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy Stakes as a 2-year-old last year and gets her first chance to go around three turns in the Liberation. In her two sprints this year she has set quick fractions but tired in the stretch. The Cloutiers have been working hard to get Shelby Madison to settle down in the mornings and are hoping it pays off on Sunday.

"She had a pretty easy time of it in the Fantasy," said Toni. "They let her get away with some pretty soft fractions. But there's always going to be someone that can go with her so we're trying to get her to relax."

One of the things they've done to try and settle her down is to work her without blinkers.

"She seems to be a lot more relaxed now but she's such a spooky filly that we'll put them on her for the race," Toni said.

"Our filly is coming into the race really fit," said Mark. "Even though it's been a long while between races [May 4], I'm not worried about her fitness-wise. She's very sound and it's just a matter if she can settle."

Jockey Felipe Valdez has been aboard for Shelby Madison's last couple of works, and he feels she's come a long way.

"She seemed a little anxious the first time I worked her but she was very relaxed when I worked six furlongs [1:14.80, June 7] last time. It was more of a breeze than anything."

Mark Patzer had been aboard for all of Shelby Madison's previous races, but he was injured in a car accident recently and is undergoing therapy.

"It's day to day," said his agent, Trapper Barroby.

Krasner out for the year

Jockey Sam Krasner will need surgery to repair a bulging disc and will miss the remainder of the year reported his wife, trainer Cindy Krasner.

"The doctor said he could go back to work but if he did he would probably hurt it again within a month or two," she said. "With the surgery he should be able to come back as good as new next year. With the shortage of riders around, I'm probably more disappointed than he is."

Kid Katabatic points to July 1 race

Kid Katabatic came out of the John Longden in great shape and will be pointed to the $75,000 Lieutentant Governors' July 1.

"He was getting pretty cranky so I sent him home to the farm for a few days to mellow him out," said his owner-trainer Shauna Ferguson. "But he'll resume training right away."

Lord Nelson is also pointing to the Lieutenant Governors'.

"It's a bit of a push but I think he'll make it," said his trainer, Dino Condilenios. Lord Nelson injured his foot and hasn't raced since he won the George Royal Stakes on April 28.