09/17/2003 11:00PM

Boston Fox hitting the road again


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - It's no surprise that the high-powered racing team of owner Francis McDonnell and trainer George Handy have perhaps the best 3-year-old in New England in Boston Fox. Boston Fox has won three races at Suffolk Downs this year, but it was his performances at Saratoga that solidified his credentials in one of the strongest crops of 3-year-olds here in years.

Boston Fox enhanced his chance to be a local champion by winning for the fifth time this year Wednesday in an off-the-turf one-mile allowance race here.

That was his first local race since a gutsy nose loss to Strike N Go in the Suffolk Downs Derby in July, a race which will go down as the track's best of the year. Both horses were scheduled to race three weeks later at Saratoga, but Strike N Go flipped in the paddock and was scratched. That left Boston Fox as the lone Suffolk representative in the $75,000 claimer, and he won by three lengths.

With a subsequent second-place finish in a $100,000 claimer at Saratoga and his win Wednesday, Boston Fox has finished first or second in all eight of his starts since joining Handy's barn.

Handy, 79, and his assistant of four years, former jockey Carlos Grullon, expected the easy win Boston Fox turned in Wednesday, correctly anticipating the weather would likely force the $19,000 allowance race to be moved to the main track.

The plan now calls for Boston Fox to ship out of town again, to Monmouth for the $50,000 Point Given Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on closing day, Sept. 28.

Two fewer pounds for 'Sultan'

Stylish Sultan should have little trouble winning his fifth Massachusetts-bred stakes of the year in Saturday's $35,000 Second Episode Stallion Stakes.

The undisputed champion statebred older horse, Stylish Sultan lost for the first time this year in his last start, finishing fifth under 130 pounds in the Macomber Stakes over a sloppy track Aug. 2. He will still have to spot considerable weight - 128 pounds compared to to his rivals' 116 - in this race, but he is a tough customer coming off a layoff and worked a strong half-mile in 48.60 seconds for trainer Arthur Duffy Jr. last week.

Winston Thompson, who dashed out of the blocks this week with five-win to take an early lead in the rider standings, will be back aboard Stylish Sultan.