11/17/2001 1:00AM

Aguilar gets off to fast start


MIAMI - With his 97 victories, good for third in the rider standings at the recently concluded Calder meeting, Manny Aguilar served notice that he would be a major factor during the Tropical at Calder meet. With a dozen victories over the first 10 days of the new meet, Aguilar has grabbed the top spot in the standings and is off to a flying start in quest of his first riding title.

"I'm very happy and I guess a little surprised to be the leader," Aguilar said during a break from riding seven races on Saturday's card. "This is a tough meet and I've been only riding here one year, so I guess it's pretty quick to have been able to do this well. Luckily everybody has been good to me and I ride for a lot of different trainers."

Aguilar, 27, began riding in Peru in 1991 where he won more than 900 races before coming to the United States in 1999. He first rode on the New Jersey circuit and eventually worked his way south, with a brief stop in Maryland, before settling in south Florida during the 2000 Tropical meet. His biggest wins this year came in the summer with Queen of Oz and Take Charge Megan in the Aspidistra and Americana handicaps, respectively.

Double features

The two-stakes Saturdays in November will continue with next week's $60,000 The Vid and U Can Do It handicaps. The Vid will serve as a prep for the $100,000 Pete Axthelm Stakes on Dec. 22. It is expected to draw a full field, led by T V Sports Director, who is looking to rebound from a dull performance in the Calder Derby, a race taken off the turf and run on a sloppy main track.

The U Can Do It is a prep for the Grade 3 $100,000 Chaposa Spring Handicap on Dec. 29. The U Can Do It is at 6 1/2 furlongs and is for fillies and mares.

Cesare suspended for 60 days

The Calder board of stewards suspended trainer Bill Cesare for 60 days for an incident here on Oct. 14. Witnesses alleged that Cesare threatened a groom with a gun. Cesare denied the allegations and is expected to appeal the ruling.

The stewards' ruling stated, "no person shall carry or exhibit a deadly weapon or otherwise disturb the peace on the premises of the Association."

Cesare is currently tied for fifth in the standings.