Updated on 09/17/2011 10:42AM

Ain't over till it's over

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Affirmed Success, in the money in 23 of 31 starts in stakes, will make his 2003 debut on Friday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - For a few fleeting moments last fall, trainer Richard Schosberg thought it was over. After six years on the track, and 23 top-three finishes in 31 stakes attempts, Affirmed Success appeared to have lost his desire to race.

So, for the second time in three months, Affirmed Success was sent to owner Al Fried's Buttonwood Farm in upstate New York for a vacation.

"If he came back and still didn't show the same enthusiasm that he had at the beginning of the year, we were all prepared to say that's it," Schosberg said.

Au contraire. Since coming back to Schosberg's barn in October, Affirmed Success has trained very enthusiastically. On Friday, Affirmed Success will make his debut as a 9-year-old in a stakes-caliber, six-furlong allowance race at Aqueduct. It will be the first start for Affirmed Success since July 4 when he finished second behind Left Bank in the Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont.

Schosberg said Affirmed Success was knocked out by that performance, which precipitated his first vacation.

"I figured 30 days' rest and bring him back for the fall was a possibility," Schosberg said. "He needed more than 30 days; he needed serious time. We all do when we get older."

Schosberg has been pleased with the way Affirmed Success has been training, including a five-furlong move in 1:00.92 Sunday. Only two of 22 workouts at the distance were timed in under 1:02.80.

Friday's race will be Affirmed Success's first start at six furlongs since he finished 12th in the 1999 Breeders' Cup Sprint. His last victory at six furlongs came in a third-level allowance race on May 30, 1998.

Affirmed Success will need to be razor sharp to win this race. Not only is this not his best distance, but he faces a trio of top sprinters in Wrangler, Sassy Hound, and Late Carson.

Wrangler beat Affirmed Success in last year's General George after losing to him in the Toboggan. He wheels back in 12 days after finishing fifth in the Gravesend Handicap. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens felt Wrangler was inhibited in the Gravesend because of racing on the inside, forced there, ironically, by Jerkens's other horse in the race, Multiple Choice, who won.

"If he could've got out in the stretch he would have made it closer," Jerkens said. "He's got an attitude. If he's in the thick of things and he can't be outside, he gets a little disturbed."

Sassy Hound, a six-furlong specialist, makes his first start since finishing a close third in the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel in November. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. entered Late Carson and Ceviche, who are coupled.

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