Updated on 09/17/2011 9:44AM

Ah, American Century


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - John Fort used to think the only thing one could get excited about this time of year was a quality 3-year-old. Saturday, Fort learned otherwise.

Fort watched from Florida on Saturday afternoon as American Century, a 5-year-old son of Pioneering, rallied from well back to win a six-furlong, third-level allowance race over Aqueduct's inner track. It was American Century's first victory since he won the 2001 Bahamas Stakes at Hialeah. His final time of 1:08.93 was the fastest six-furlong time over the inner track in three years. American Century earned a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure.

"We've got some nice horses right now, but I don't know of any win that was more exciting or more gratifying to me than that win was the other day," said Fort on Monday.

Fort, who runs under the name Peachtree Stable, shelled out $250,000 for American Century at a 2000 2-year-old in training sale. Fort said it was the most he has paid for any horse, including Invisible Ink, who finished second in the 2001 Kentucky Derby.

American Century showed promise at 2, winning his maiden by 7 3/4 lengths at Saratoga. According to Fort, American Century showed signs of having a breathing problem when he finished fifth in the Saratoga Special and underwent a myectomy to correct it. He won an entry-level allowance race in his subsequent start.

At 3, American Century was beaten less than a length in the Grade 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes before winning the Bahamas by 4 1/4 lengths. After finishing seventh in the Derby Trial, American Century toiled in the third-level allowance ranks for the next year.

Fort thought American Century was headed toward becoming a claiming horse. Since trainer Todd Pletcher doesn't deal much with claimers, Fort sent the horse to trainer Steve Klesaris at Delaware Park. Fort said he and Klesaris go back more than 20 years.

After three decent races and one poor performance at Delaware, Klesaris diagnosed a problem with American Century's right hind ankle. Klesaris worked on the ankle and also had some chiropractic work performed on American Century's back.

"Steve subtly decided it was this ankle that was a problem, and with the deep-muscle heat treatments on his back, we cured both things at the same time," Fort said. "He went from being a horse to potentially one of the Peachtree stars."

Now, Fort can set his sights on bigger things for American Century. It is unlikely the horse would be wheeled back in the Paumonok Handicap here on Jan. 25, but one possible spot would be the $200,000 General George Handicap at Laurel Park on Feb. 17. Fort also has his dream race - the Metropolitan Handicap in late May - in the back of his mind. Fort calls the Met Mile the third most prestigious race in American racing behind the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic.

"I don't mean to even propose at this moment that's where we're pointing," Fort said. "But wouldn't it be something if he could be the kind of horse that could carry his speed that far. If Steve can keep him at this level and that sound, there's a possibility that he can be that kind of horse."

Zonk likely for Fritchie

Zonk, the two-length winner of Saturday's Grade 3 Affectionately Handicap around two turns, will most likely make her next start in the one-turn, seven-furlong $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap on Feb. 15 at Laurel.

"That's the way I'm leaning right now," trainer John Servis said Monday from Philadelphia Park, where he reported that Zonk came out of he race in good order.

Zonk would add to what is shaping up to be a very strong renewal of the Barbara Fritchie. Among those expected to run are champion Xtra Heat, Grade 1 winner Carson Hollow, and multiple stakes winner Wilzada.

Of Xtra Heat and Carson Hollow, Servis said, "they're two solid horses, but [Zonk] isn't any slouch either. It's a Grade 2 and I haven't won a Grade 2 with her yet. We're trying to space her races out and give her plenty of time and, hopefully, we'll get that done."

Can Brightest Ice keep Barbara hot?

Trainer Bob Barbara, who is 9 for 19 at the inner track meeting, will seek to raise his winning percentage to .500 Wednesday when he sends out Brightest Ice in a second-level allowance race.

Starting with a $16,000 claimer on Nov. 5, Brightest Ice has reeled off three consecutive victories. Wednesday, he will try to stretch out to nine furlongs for the first time, and may have to deal with pace pressure from Iwin.

Possible upsetters include Rate Base, who is a three-time winner at the distance, and Catlike Move, who makes his first start for John Terranova, who claimed the Tabasco Cat colt off a win for $75,000 Dec. 3.

Iwinski suspended 10 days

Trainer Allen Iwinski on Monday began serving a 10-day suspension after one of his horses tested positive for a banned substance.

Sing Me Back Home was found to have the anti-bleeding medication Amicar in his postrace urine sample following a third-place finish in the Sport Page Handicap on Oct. 26. Amicar is a legal raceday medication in some jurisdictions, but not New York.

Iwinski was initially suspended 20 days and fined $1,000, but had the days cut in half for waiving his right to appeal. Iwinski's horses will be saddled by his assistant, Brad Wallace.

* Apprentice Luis Chavez enjoyed his first three-win day in New York on Sunday. His winners included Ravish Me ($5.30), Classic Endeavor ($3.20), and Lulu's Dream ($35.80).