06/07/2007 11:00PM

Winter racing pays off for Newell


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Mike Newell altered his off-season pattern this winter, and the change has paid dividends.

The veteran trainer shipped as usual to Thistledown after last year's Fort Erie meet. But instead of sending his runners to the farm when that meet ended in December, Newell decided to try Mountaineer Park.

"We had a bunch of horses that looked like they could go on," said Newell. "We had a good winter, but a lot of the days were cancelled. We made a living with a few wins and came back with fit horses."

Besides arriving at Fort Erie with 12 horses, Newell shipped 10 to Thistledown, which began its meet May 12.

He has 4 wins and 5 seconds from 17 starts at the Fort heading into Sunday. And at Thistledown, Newell has 2 wins from his first 9 starts. He also had 3 seconds and 1 third there.

"It's definitely the best start I've had for a while," said Newell, who had 17 winners at Fort Erie last year, good for ninth place in the trainer standings.

He will saddle Hot Steel in the first race at Fort Erie Sunday. Hot Steel won a race opening weekend.

Race-caller new to Thoroughbreds

Fort Erie has a new race caller, Peter Kyte, 31.

"This is my absolute first exposure to calling Thoroughbred races," said Kyte, who has been in the booth for two weeks, and has gotten a thumbs up from racegoers for his smooth delivery.

Surprisingly, Kyte has experience with Standardbreds but does not have much experience calling Standardbred races, either. As a teenager, he called qualifying races in Dresden Raceway in Ontario.

Later, he worked at Flamboro Downs near Hamilton, Ontario, but as a television personality who occasionally filled in as a part-time track announcer.

Kyte also was one of the original on-air hosts of Woodbine's HPI-TV.

Just prior to landing the job at Fort Erie, Kyte was training Standardbreds.

Davis already halfway to '06 win total

Trainer Richard Davis, 40, has had an auspicious 2007 start at the Fort.

On Monday, Davis sent out Radical Right ($9.80) to win a bottom-level claimer by 8 1/4 lengths. It was the second winner for Davis, who has had only seven starters at the meet. Three weeks earlier, Davis won with Gold'n'counter.

Davis had been out of racing for a couple of years when he arrived at the Fort last year. He started last year with two horses and finished with five.

Davis's win total was four last year. His victories were all by one horse, T and T Time, a $5,000 claim on Aug. 13 for his main client, Michael Hayward's Kool Green Stables.

"The horse made $55,000 for us in two and a half months," said Davis. " He was nominated for claim of the year here."

The latest winner, Radical Right, was bought privately last year.

Davis has nine runners. Two of them, Harley on Barley and Cheeky Li'l Devil, will race on Sunday.