10/22/2004 11:00PM

Better fit for Rat Like Cunning

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Rat Like Cunning, badly outrun in the Pegasus Stakes, finds a more reasonable spot Tuesday afternoon at The Meadowlands Racetrack.

The Big M split the three-other-than allowance and optional $45,000 claiming feature into a mile and 70-yard race on the main track and a 1 1/16-mile turf contest, each carrying a $43,000 purse.

Rat Like Cunning was a sharp claim for $10,000 by trainer Pat Bottazzi over the summer at Monmouth Park. A 3-year-old gelding, Rat Like Cunning reeled off three wins in his first four starts for Bottazzi, including a pair of allowance victories.

"Rat Like Cunning was our claim to fame," said assistant trainer Pat Bottazzi Jr. "He really turned around for us."

Pat Jr. is tending to the horses and the family restaurant business while his dad is headed to Florida to repair hurricane damage to his home.

Rat Like Cunning finds a much better fit Tuesday after his overly ambitious reach in the Grade 3 Pegasus, the Big M's premier 3-year-old stakes.

Rat Like Cunning pressed the pace for a half-mile and then hit a wall. He wound up last, 32 3/4 lengths behind the winner, Pies Prospect.

"The owners wanted to take the shot," said Bottazzi, Jr. "We were shooting for the stars."

Rat Like Cunning will be more firmly grounded in this spot. He posted Beyer Figures of 81 and 80 in his two allowance wins before the Pegasus.

Play Bingo owns the best current Beyers. Trained by John R.S. Fisher, Play Bingo has won three in a row, including a rallying victory last time out at the Big M in which he registered a career-best 93 Beyer.

Bottazzi has Weston Field in the other division, but Weston Field's status is uncertain. Bottazzi opted to split up his two runners and dropped Weston Field into the grass race, hoping for an off-the-turf scenario. A career winner of seven races, Weston Field has not finished in the money in three turf races.

Sir Walter Rahy is the one to beat in the turf race. He ran Beyer Figures of 92, 95, and 93 in his last three races in New York for trainer Jim Toner.

* Account wagering in New Jersey was slated to begin Monday. Account applications from residents of the state can be processed through www.4njbets.com. Only internet wagering is available. An automated phone system is scheduled to begin by the end of the year.