11/25/2003 1:00AM

Affirmed Feeling steps up


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Heading into the 2002 season, Affirmed Feeling was seen as a potential Queen's Plate horse.

Owned and bred by Ivan Dalos and trained by David Bell, Affirmed Feeling had closed out his juvenile campaign with a rallying third-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity, looking like the sort who would thrive at the Plate's 1 1/4-mile distance.

Affirmed Feeling did end up racing on Queen's Plate Day, but his appearance came about 40 minutes after the feature, in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race where he finished seventh.

"He never really matured as a 3-year-old," said Bell. "He had little problems; nothing bad."

Those problems led to Affirmed Feeling getting a breather after his Plate Day outing, but that break stretched far beyond what was anticipated. Affirmed Feeling had not seen action for more than a year when he won his maiden while sporting a $40,000 claiming tag this July 4.

"We got going with him late and couldn't get him back in the fall," Bell said. "He wasn't supposed to get that much time off."

Now, four starts and two more wins later, Affirmed Feeling looks to have a serious shot at becoming a stakes winner in Sunday's 1 3/4-mile Valedictory, one of the $125,000 features on the closing-day card.

In his last start, the 1 1/2-mile allowance prep for the Valedictory here Nov. 8, Affirmed Feeling made an eye-catching move from well off the pace and widened through the stretch for a 9 3/4-length victory, earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 95. Patrick Husbands, aboard for the first time that day, will be back Sunday.

"I kind of liked him going further," Bell said. "But I was surprised, a little bit, how impressive he was."

That performance had a major bearing on the Valedictory weights, as Affirmed Feeling and Parose were made the 118-pound highweights for the handicap.

Affirmed Feeling remains eligible for his third allowance condition and has earned $188,330 in a 15-start career. Parose, a 9-year-old owned by John Atto and trained by Sandy McPherson, has won 19 of 83 starts, including five stakes, and would go over the $1 million mark with a victory in the Valedictory.

On the Game cuts back to sprint

Bell will be looking for a change of pace Saturday for On the Game, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old whom he trains for John Franks.

On the Game, who has made his last four starts around two turns, will be cutting back to six furlongs for the $125,000 Kennedy Road for 3-year-olds and upward.

The race would be the first at the distance for On the Game since the second start of his career here, on July 29, 2001. The horse was purchased privately by Franks after he won his debut over six furlongs in very impressive fashion, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

On the Game has had his ups and downs since then but has managed to win 6 of 19 career starts and finish second or third on another six occasions while banking $313,371.

Absent from the races for 16 months due to shoulder and knee problems, On the Game returned Aug. 16 and was a sharp winner at seven furlongs before reverting to distance racing.

"Some of his best races have been sprinting," said Bell. "In his last few races, he's kind of run evenly. That's often the sign of a horse that wants to sprint, but will go long.

"A lot of times if you shorten them back up, they can close like a bear."

Emile Ramsammy, who rode On the Game in both his first and most recent victories and a couple in between, returns to the saddle after a three-race hiatus.

Open Concert breezes

Ramsammy was aboard when Open Concert, another Kennedy Road candidate, breezed three furlongs in 38 seconds on the fast main track Tuesday.

"I really didn't want to work him, I just needed to blow him out a little bit," said Abraham Katryan, who trains Open Concert for the Kelynack Racing Stable of Glenn Harvey. "Cutting him back to six furlongs, I didn't want to take too much out of him."

Open Concert, claimed for $80,000 here on Oct. 8, is perfect in two starts for his current connections, the most recent coming in the off-the-turf Labeeb over a mile and 70 yards here Nov. 2. Ramsammy rode on both occasions.

Mark One works for Valedictory

Mark One breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 under exercise rider Stacie Clark-Rogers on the main track Tuesday and is on target for the Valedictory.

A Kentucky-bred gelding owned by Stronach Stable and trained by Danny Vella, Mark One is coming off a win under fourth-level allowance terms at 1 1/8 miles here Oct. 29.

Robert Landry, who has ridden Mark One to each of his five lifetime victories, retains the mount. Mark One has been weighted at 115 pounds, and Landry weighed in at 116 last weekend.

Smoocher to ship out to Calder

Smoocher, a Florida-bred 2-year-old colt trained by Bell and owned by Franks, is slated to ship out Friday and make his next appearance in the What a Pleasure Stakes at Calder on Dec. 13, Bell said.

Smoocher is seeking his second stakes win in the 1 1/16-mile What a Pleasure, having taken the Grade 2 Grey at that distance here Oct. 5.