11/09/2001 12:00AM

Wise claim revives Morgan's career


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Brian Morgan found himself squarely in the spotlight in 1999 as the trainer of the sensational Gregorian Chance.

A 3-year-old filly owned by Dennis Morrison and Karin Schmidt, Gregorian Chance rattled off six straight scores at Woodbine, including the Duchess and Seaway stakes, and was the runner-up in the Sovereign Award voting for outstanding sprinter.

But when Gregorian Chance failed to reproduce that form in 2000 and was retired with an ankle injury, Morgan's training career shifted into neutral.

That all changed this spring when he hooked up with owner Terry Ellah, the brother-in-law of Frank Pagliaroli, for whom Morgan was training at the time.

Ellah and his wife, Diane, had owned horses in partnership with Pagliaroli but left the game more than seven years ago to concentrate on starting up a new business. That venture in candle-making now is prospering, prompting Ellah to swing back into action on the claiming front.

And one of those claims, Virginia Forum, will be looking to put Morgan and Ellah in the winner's circle following Sunday's $109,900 Glorious Song Stakes, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies.

Virginia Forum, a Florida-bred by Open Forum out of Yes Virginia and one of a seemingly endless supply of 2-year-olds trained by Mark Casse, was entered for $25,000 in her debut here Aug. 15.

"The Open Forums had been running pretty good," said Morgan. "She'd been training particularly well, and was a fairly correct individual, so we took a chance. There was a five-way shake for her; we won the shake."

Virginia Forum finished second in that five-furlong opener and then was a close third at the same distance when tagged for $47,500 in her first start for her new interests.

But she hasn't made a wrong move since then, winning her maiden for $50,000 at seven furlongs and then recording a very game entry-level allowance victory over 1 1/16 miles of slop.

Shortly thereafter, Morgan started thinking Glorious Song.

"When she won the allowance race, there were kind of limited opportunities for her at the end of the year, with two wins under her belt," he said. "We thought it was worth a shot."

Virginia Forum has recorded a pair of solid five-furlong drills in preparation for her stakes debut, including five furlongs in 1:01 here Wednesday.

And while Morgan acknowledges the Glorious Song to be a difficult spot, he's happy with his filly's draw of the outside post in the field of seven.

"If the speed's too hot, she should be happy to sit just off it," he said. "Whether she's that caliber of horse or not, we don't know. But she sure has blossomed since we got her."

Morgan and Ellah have claimed two other 2-year-olds from the Casse outfit, taking Fleet Forum from his Oct. 4 debut for $32,000 and Expecting Joy from his second start for the same price last week.

Fleet Forum, also by Open Forum, has finished third and sixth in two outings for his new barn.

Morgan is hoping Fleet Forum and Expecting Joy both will get in a start before the meeting winds up Dec. 2.

Royal Jade, a 7-year-old mare who was claimed for $14,000 in May, and Tricky Weather, a 3-year-old filly haltered for $16,000 in June, both recorded a pair of wins for Ellah and Morgan.

Tricky Weather is through for the season but will return next spring. Royal Jade has been retired and will be one of the founding mothers of an Ellah broodmare operation along with Judith's Sister and One Knight Stand.

Judith's Sister, a 6-year-old who was claimed for $25,000 here

Oct. 18 with the breeding shed in mind, finished third when in for $45,000 for her new interests here Thursday.

Gregorian Chance, who colicked after undergoing ankle surgery and almost died, now is a broodmare for Morrison and Schmidt but lost her first foal this year.

Her full brother, the gelding Quincy's Quest, has won just 1 of 13 career starts for Morgan but has managed to grind out $52,522 this season while picking up checks in six of nine outings.

"He has the talent," said Morgan. "He just doesn't really have any desire to win."

Numerous Times turned out

Numerous Times, winner of the Atto Mile and a leading candidate to be named Canada's Horse of the Year and outstanding turf horse, will not see action again this season.

"He's going to the farm," said Sid Attard, who trains Numerous Times for The Committee Stable. "There's nothing really for him."

Numerous Times, a horse who requires careful handling, shipped to Belmont for the Breeders' Cup Mile but wrenched an ankle while in his stall and had to be scratched.

Attard said Numerous Times now is "doing very well" and could have shipped to the Far East for next month's Hong Kong Mile. That venture, however, has been ruled out.

"It's too far to go," said Attard, "especially for him."

Numerous Times will winter at nearby Norse Ridge Farm and should come into Woodbine early next March to prepare for his 5-year-old campaign.