10/12/2001 11:00PM

Agosti gets pleasant surprise in stakes


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Trainer Tom Agosti sent out horses in the two Fort Erie stakes last Monday, even though he felt he had no shot of winning either. So Agosti was pleased when Native Wager won Memorial Stakes for fillies at 12-1 and Right Stop finished third at 55-1 in the Bridgeburg Stakes.

His horses, both 3-year-olds, were taking on older runners in the stakes, both at 1 1/16 miles. But he thought their improving form had earned them a stakes try.

Agosti was hoping Right Stop wouldn't be embarrassed in the Bridgeburg. After all, the likely favorites, Storm Cruiser and Dimanno, boasted Beyer Speed Figures of 107 and 100, respectively, in their last starts. Dimanno had equalled the track's 30-year-old record at 1 1/16 miles in his race.

In contrast, the best Beyer earned by Right Stop in his 16 races was 77.

"I figured if we finished fifth or sixth and only got beat seven or eight lengths we would have done well," said Agosti, a 43-year-old native of Kenmore, N.Y.

Right Stop led most of the way in the field of nine. He finished just 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Storm Cruiser.

Two races later, Native Wager got the job done in the Memorial. She came from off the pace and won by 3 1/4 lengths, giving Agosti his first stakes score since he switched over to Thoroughbreds in 1994 after more than a dozen years with Standardbreds. The filly paid $25.40.

Agosti had claimed both runners in Florida earlier in the year for client Mike Barkowski - Right Stop for $16,000 and Native wager for $10,000. The intention was to run them in higher-level races restricted to their age category at Woodbine.

* Trainer Armand Concessi is looking at the turf for Bridgeburg winner Storm Cruiser's next start. A 5-year-old gelding, Storm Cruiser won by 3 1/2 lengths. Concessi had claimed him two weeks earlier for $14,000.

"If I can't find a race here, I'll try Woodbine," he said.