01/20/2004 1:00AM

Another stakes try


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Pat Reynolds will give Peeping Tom another chance to prove that Father Time hasn't caught up to the Grade 1-winning gelding when he sends him out in Saturday's $75,000 Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct.

The 7-year-old Peeping Tom, who has banked more than $1.2 million since being claimed for $40,000 by Flatbird Stable nearly four years ago, has lost his last three starts, including an optional claimer here on Jan. 7. He finished third that day behind the razor-sharp Spooky Mulder, who is also likely to run in the six-furlong Paumonok.

Before that, Peeping Tom finished fourth in the Gravesend and fifth in the Fall Highweight. His last victory came in allowance company at The Meadowlands on Nov. 1.

"Last time, he ran kind of a flat race," Reynolds said. "Before that I thought he had an excuse or two. We've made a few little adjustments, and hopefully one of those might help."

One of those adjustments was treating Peeping Tom with ulcer medication. While Peeping Tom has always had ulcers, they rarely bothered him. Reynolds noted that Peeping Tom acted up in the paddock before the Fall Highweight, perhaps signaling the start of an intestinal problem.

In addition, Reynolds noted that he has backed off a bit in the gelding's training. He planned to blow him out three furlongs either Wednesday or Thursday.

Reynolds said that for the quality of the competition expected to run in the Paumonok, the New York Racing Association should consider raising the purse. "It seems like a $125,000 stakes, and they're giving away $75,000," Reynolds said.

Peeping Tom will be the co-highweight at 117 pounds along with Way to the Top, the runner-up to Shake You Down in last month's Gravesend Handicap. Crossing Point, who won last year's Paumonok but who was later disqualified from purse money for a positive drug violation, was assigned 116 pounds. Others expected to run include Spooky Mulder (115), Sunray Spirit (114), Crafty Song (113), and Don Six (113).

Fond breezes toward Busanda

Fond, the upset winner of the Open Mind Stakes here on Dec. 28, worked an easy half-mile in 51.04 seconds Tuesday over the Belmont training track in preparation for Sunday's $75,000 Busanda Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Fond, a daughter of Old Trieste, has run very well in three of her route races. The lone exception was in the Grade 3 Tempted when she faded after stalking the pace and was beaten 17 lengths by La Reina.

"Every start, including the Tempted, I was pleased with," said trainer George Weaver, who was up from Florida to watch Fond train. "In the Tempted, when they came of the turn, she was right there and she dug in. I think she's got a big heart."

Weaver hopes Fond runs well enough in the Busanda to warrant a return engagement in the $75,000 Busher Stakes on Feb. 28.

Please Take Me Out, who won the Miss Grillo Stakes on turf at Belmont in October, worked five furlongs in 1:03.43 on Tuesday and is also expected to run in the Busanda, contested at a mile and 70 yards.

Jester Rahab looks poised to strike

If Jester Rahab runs Thursday afternoon like she has been training in the mornings, she will be tough to beat in a $45,000 second-level allowance race for fillies and mares at six furlongs, which serves as Aqueduct's featured event on a nine-race card.

Jester Rahab, a Texas-bred daughter of Dmitri who has been out of the money only once in 19 career starts, is making her second start off a year layoff. Her trainer, Bruce Levine, explained that Jester Rahab missed the bulk of that time because of soreness. She returned at this level on Dec. 19 and finished second behind Chirimoya, who came back to win a third-level allowance last week.

"I thought her comeback race was really good," Levine said. "She was stuck behind a wall of horses and had to angle six or seven wide. The winner shot the rail and came back to win again."

Jester Rahab has worked three times since that race, including a bullet half-mile move in 47.80 seconds on Jan. 11.

"She's training like a stakes horse. She's training unbelievably," Levine said.

Levine had preferred to run Jester Rahab in a route race last week, but that was canceled because of bad weather. Though the racing office brought the race back, it didn't fill, so Levine put her in a sprint. Jester Rahab is 1-3-1 from five races at six furlongs.

Levine said the horse he fears is Cativa, a 4-year-old filly trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. who has won three consecutive races and five of her last seven.

Southern Smoke is 2 for 3 over the inner track, but won for a $20,000 claiming tag last out.

Austin's Mom likely for Rare Treat

Austin's Mom, the upset winner of last Saturday's Grade 3 Affectionately Handicap, will likely run back in the $75,000 Rare Treat Handicap Feb. 16, her trainer, Allen Iwinski, said.

Iwinski, who watched the Affectionately from Florida, said he was more surprised with how Austin's Mom won than the fact she won by 5 1/2 lengths at 11-1. Austin's Mom was about nine lengths off the pace after the opening half-mile before unleashing a powerful stretch run under Pablo Fragoso.

"I expected her to run pretty decent," Iwinski said from Florida. "but she shocked me with that stretch run. She didn't seem like that type of filly."

Austin's Mom, who earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 98 in the Affectionately, has now won 3 of 4 starts since joining Iwinski's barn.