01/17/2002 12:00AM

Bush's career better second time around

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - Trainer Tom Bush said he doesn't want to analyze his hot streak, which has yielded five winners from nine starters at Aqueduct's inner track meet, too closely.

Bush said he's not looking for the whys behind the streak, which has produced some very healthy mutuel payouts, he just wants the winners to keep on coming.

"If I knew I'd probably mess it up, so it's better I don't know," Bush said with a laugh.

Bush, 51, is doing well with a fairly small stable of 13 horses. Last Sunday, Saskya ($42.20) won her second consecutive start at the inner track meet, which opened Dec. 5. Three days earlier, Spavinaw ($15.60) won her second race in a row at the meet. Bush's other winner, Sherpa Guide ($5.20), nearly made it back-to-back wins, but was narrowly beaten and finished second in an allowance on Dec. 27.

"They all seem to be doing well," Bush said. "Last winter I had six horses and I've built up the stable a little bit and that helps. I've had some good runs when I had more horses, but it's been a good 10 years since I had a streak like this."

Bush worked as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Angel Penna Sr. during the early 1980's before going out on his own. For the first several years, Bush did well with his 20-horse public stable and even had some stakes winners in the barn, but eventually he was down to three horses and was struggling to make ends meet.

Bush said, "I literary couldn't make a living."

Bush decided to accept a job as an assistant to trainer Mike Hushion and remained there for 2 1/2 years before going out on his own again in September 2000.

When Bush began training on his own for the second time he was reunited with one of his original clients, Dr. Doug Koch, who runs under the stable name, Berkshire Stud. Koch, a veterinarian, is a successful commercial breeder in New York and is the co-owner of Saskya and the owner of Sherpa Guide.

"I've been training for Doug since I started; he's been extremely loyal and that's rare in this business," Bush said. "He loves the racing game and is very enthusiastic, but understands these horses are athletes and have problems."

Bush recently picked up a new owner, Herb Moelis of Candy Stables. Moelis privately purchased Spavinaw, a restricted stakes winner, in December.

Bush said Spavinaw is a candidate for the $75,000-added Broadway Handicap, a New York-bred stakes, at Aqueduct in April.

Nobody picked four

On Thursday at Aqueduct, for the first time since the pick 4 was introduced at Belmont Park last spring there were no tickets with all four winners.

A payout for any combination of three winners returned $1,060 for a $2 wager. Unlike the pick 6, which has a carryover if no tickets have six winners, the pick 4 is paid out daily.

A parade of longshots won the pick 4 races. Bit of Brass ($97) lit up the toteboard in the sixth race and was followed by Jester Rahab ($10); La Galerie ($13); and The Numbers Add Up ($52).

Major Wager undergoes physical

Major Wager, a stakes-placed sprinter who was being pointed to a stakes campaign over the inner track this winter, has been placed on the sidelines indefinitely.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Major Wager, who is owned by Ackerley Brothers Farm, was off behind and was sent to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. for a thorough examination.

Major Wager, a 4-year-old filly, has earned $189,616 from a record of 4-5-1 in 11 starts. Most recently, she was scratched from the Interborough Handicap on Jan. 1.