12/04/2012 2:48PM

Aqueduct: Fiddlers Afleet cuts back to six furlongs

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Barbara D. Livingston
In his last start, Fiddlers Afleet finished fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Empire Classic for New York-breds on Oct. 20.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – While his two biggest wins have come in route races, Fiddlers Afleet’s two most recent victories have come sprinting.

Thursday, Fiddlers Afleet returns from a seven-week freshening in a $69,000 optional claiming race at six furlongs that serves as the feature on a nine-race program at Aqueduct.

Four of the six horses entered – including the 6-year-old Fiddlers Afleet – are being offered for the claiming price of $75,000. Only two, Leave of Absence and Star Harbour, are in for the third-level allowance condition.

As a 3-year-old in 2009, Fiddlers Afleet won the Albany Stakes for New York-breds at Saratoga and the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, both at 1 1/8 miles.

Since being transferred back to New York from California – and to trainer David Jacobson – by owner Gary Barber, Fiddlers Afleet has won at six furlongs and seven furlongs.

“I think his best race for me was at six furlongs,” said Jacobson, referring to a 7 1/4-length win by Fiddlers Afleet in the Chasin’ Wimmin’ Stakes at Belmont on July 6. “I feel much more comfortable with him at six furlongs.”

In that victory in the Chasin’ Wimmin’, Fiddlers Afleet took advantage of a strong early pace, something he is likely to get on Thursday with the presence of Dr Disco and Star Harbour in the field.

“But he can lay close too,” Jacobson said. “We’ll probably lay just off it and if nobody decides to go we can be right on it.”

Fiddlers Afleet, unraced since finishing a well-beaten fifth in the $250,000 Empire Classic, a 1 1/8-mile race at Belmont on Oct. 20, will be making his first appearance over Aqueduct’s main track in four years, when he was second in a six-furlong race.

Fiddlers Afleet will break from the rail under Wilmer Garcia.

Gallant Fields has raced in this condition three times but never at six furlongs. He is 0 for 3 at the distance, but did finish second to This Ones for Phil last February in a $75,000 claimer sprinting over the inner track.

Gallant Fields is dropping in class off a sixth-place finish behind Buffum in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont on Oct. 27.

Spa City Fever, winless in five starts in 2012 after ending 2011 with a victory in the Alex M. Robb Stakes at 34-1, returns from a seven-month layoff in this spot.

Star Harbour comes off a front-running victory in a very solid 1:08.73 in the mud at Belmont on May 8.

Dr Disco, a stakes winner at Finger Lakes three back, goes out for trainer Nicholas Esler after winning seven of his first 18 starts for trainer Bruce Brown.

Leave of Absence cuts back to his preferred distance of six furlongs for his first start since Sept. 20.