03/16/2002 12:00AM

'Affirmed': He's still got it!


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Affirmed Success proved there is still some life in his 8-year-old legs by accelerating past Multiple Choice approaching the eighth pole and drawing clear for a two-length victory in Saturday's $108,200 Toboggan Handicap at Aqueduct.

Vodka got up in the final jump to nip Multiple Choice by a neck for second. It was 6 1/4 lengths back to Wrangler, the 4-5 favorite, who finished a nonthreatening fourth. Run Kush Run and King's Messenger completed the order of finish.

A veteran of Grade 1 wars over the years, Affirmed Success had lost a step from his prime and was riding a five-race losing streak entering the Toboggan. But trainer Richard Schosberg had Affirmed Success primed for a top effort Saturday. At 8, Affirmed Success became the oldest horse to win the Toboggan, which was run for the 109th time.

Jockey Richard Migliore took off his final two mounts Friday because he was suffering from the flu. He took medication and was in bed by 4 p.m. Friday. "I just wanted to get here to ride [Affirmed Success] today," Migliore said.

Affirmed Success settled in fifth position early and raced about three lengths off the pacesetting Run Kush Run. He moved into contention around the turn and came four wide into the stretch with plenty of run to collar Multiple Choice. Affirmed Success covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.87 over a fast track and returned $6 to win as the second choice.

"Rick had him on his game," Migliore said. "I had a lot of confidence the way he warmed up, the way he broke, where he put himself; he was always in my hands and I always felt I was on the best horse."

"He's just an amazing horse," said Schosberg, who trains Affirmed Success for Albert Fried Jr. "He's quite a story, you just don't see them maintain a level like this for this long. He gets all the credit."

Wrangler, who defeated Affirmed Success in the General George Handicap, had a three-race winning streak snapped. He raced wide under Aaron Gryder, who said, "I just didn't have that turn of foot that he's capable of."

Affirmed Success and Wrangler could meet again in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 13.