01/12/2007 12:00AM

Bond suddenly rising again


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - For nearly a decade, there was much more to trainer H. James Bond than the fact he shared a name with a popular fictional British secret agent.

As the conditioner of Grade 1 winners such as Behrens, Will's Way, Buddha, and Mongoose, Bond was a player in many of Thoroughbred racing's premier events.

But for many reasons, Bond's success has dissipated in the last few years. After winning 34 races in 2004, he went just 17 for 152 in 2005 and a slightly better 26 for 187 in 2006. His last graded stakes victory came with Bossanova in the 2003 Fall Highweight Handicap, which is no longer a graded event. His only stakes win since then came in a New York stallion stakes at Aqueduct in April 2005.

"I've been drinking more water and beer than champagne lately," Bond said. "I want to drink some champagne again."

Bond, 49, has had reason to pop the cork on a few bottles of bubbly lately. Since Aqueduct's inner track opened on Nov. 29, he has won 8 races from 19 starters with 5 seconds and 1 third. Granted, the wins have come mostly in New York-bred or low-level claiming races, but it's a start.

"It's been such a quiet year, we needed to get warm somewhere," Bond said from south Florida, where he has about 17 head.

Bond's lull can be attributed to a couple of factors. First, several of his major clients, including James Edwards and the Rudlein Stable, have downsized greatly or gotten out of the business altogether. Bond's stable has dropped from 70 horses to 31.

"We didn't take a lot of other horses in, and when you say 'no' too often they kind of forget your name and your number," Bond said. "It was a pretty tough couple of years. I'm thankful for what's going on right now."

Another Bond major client, William Clifton, attempted to breed to some of the horses he had success with on the racetrack. But neither Behrens nor Will's Way proved as proficient in the breeding shed as they had on the racetrack.

"We waited and waited and we waited, we're still waiting," Bond said. "Not every racehorse goes on to be a great stallion that's a great racehorse."

Clifton has decided to stop waiting. Last year he went back to the sales and bought several yearlings (now 2-year-olds) by sires such as Tiznow and Victory Gallop. Bond, not known for his prowess with 2-year-olds, figures to take his time with those juveniles and try to develop some into classic-type horses for 2008.

"To say we're going to run 2-year-olds, that's not really my style," Bond said.

Bond had some precocious 2-year-old New York-breds in 2006, including Cool Paradigm, a second-out winner at Belmont Park who finished second in the Finger Lakes Juvenile Fillies in October. Following surgery to remove a knee chip, she rejoined Bond's Florida stable on Friday to begin training for her 3-year-old campaign. Zipperoo, a gelded son of City Zip, finished second in a pair of maiden races at 2 and won his maiden by 8 1/2 lengths on Thursday.

Ruffino is a 4-year-old New York-bred gelded son of Raffie's Majesty owned by Bond's wife, Tina Marie. Ruffino has a win and a second in two starts. He is training in Florida and will likely head north when Aqueduct's outer track opens in late March or early April.

With only 14 horses in New York, Bond doesn't know how much longer his string of success will continue. But some horses he has in Florida now are being pointed to Aqueduct's outer-track meet.

"We came there last spring and had a pretty good spring," Bond said. "So on April 1st I hope to send a pretty strong wave of statebreds and hopefully break their maidens. The winter's been great in New York, but it can turn tomorrow."

Johannesburg Star in blinkers

Johannesburg Star, runner-up in the Count Fleet Stakes on Jan. 6, has begun training in blinkers and may wear them for his next start, expected to be the Whirlaway Stakes Feb. 10.

Johannesburg Star began training in blinkers on Thursday and will likely have his next workout in them before trainer Joe Parker decides whether or not to use them in a race.

"I'm looking to make all the adjustments to keep him from shying him away from horses; I don't want him to lose momentum," Parker said. "And anytime you throw the blinkers on them you're looking for speed."

On Dec. 9, Johannesburg Star won a maiden race by 9 1/4 lengths in front-running fashion and earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure. In the Count Fleet, Johannesburg Star could not make the lead and rated in fourth. He took a short-lived lead at the five-sixteenths pole before being outfinished by Pink Viper.

"We'd love to meet Pink Viper again," Parker said.

Smash 'Em Sammy wins Friday feature

Smash 'Em Sammy prevailed in a stretch-long duel with 6-5 favorite Landofopportunity to win Friday's $65,150 Fabersham Stakes by a half-length. It was a 5 1/4 lengths back to Gonzo Bonzo Beans in third.

Smash 'Em Sammy, under C.C. Lopez, rated in third position while Landofopportunity dueled with Lights of Broadway through fractions of 22.79 seconds and 45.90 for the opening half-mile.

After Landofopportunity put away Lights of Broadway, Smash 'Em Sammy came outside of that rival and was able to draw away in the final 70 yards. Smash 'Em Sammy, a son of Rizzi trained by Scott Schwartz for owner Bonnie Jo Wooster, covered six furlongs in 1:10.68 and returned $6.10 as the second choice. Smash 'Em Sammy could make his next start in the $65,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes against open company on Feb. 19.