12/29/2007 12:00AM

City Attraction battles to finish in Gravesend

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - With Aqueduct's muddy inner track favoring speed and knowing he was aboard a fighter, jockey Mike Luzzi made sure to put City Attraction into Saturday's Grade 3 Gravesend from the outset.

City Attraction did indeed fight, as he put away Debussy inside the eighth pole then held off Joey P. late to win the $107,100 Gravesend by three-quarters of a length to earn his first stakes victory. Joey P., the slight favorite among a trio of 2-1 shots, finished second by a half-length over Debussy. Gold and Roses finished fourth while Pavo was last. P. Kerney scratched.

City Attraction, a 4-year-old son of Vicar, was supplemented to the Gravesend for a $1,000 fee by Four Roses Thoroughbreds after the race was postponed from Dec. 16 when inclement weather canceled that day's card.

City Attraction, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., dueled outside of Debussy through fractions of 22.61 seconds and 45.95. Those two continued their duel into midstretch and were joined by Joey P. who stumbled at the start. City Attraction fought hard between horses to prevail late, covering six furlongs in 1:11.97 and returning $6.70.

"We played the track today, we were a little aggressive out of there," said Luzzi, who won three races, including both stakes, on Saturday's card.

Luzzi said that Dutrow "told me if he gets into a fight, he'll fight for you. I just followed orders and he was right."

City Attraction has won 5 of 16 career starts.

Nite Light convincing in Gallant Fox

Nite Light ($8.80), a regally bred 3-year-old owned by Ned Evans and trained by Todd Pletcher, may have established himself as the winter-book favorite for the newly created Breeders' Cup Dirt Marathon with a convincing 10-length victory in the $80,700 Gallant Fox Handicap. Successful Affair, last year's Gallant Fox winner, finished second, 6 1/4 lengths ahead of stablemate Malibu Moonshine.

It was Nite Light's second consecutive marathon stakes victory, as he was coming off a head score over Successful Affair in the Coyote Lakes on Dec. 5.

Nite Light, a son of Thudner Gulch and Lite Light, went gate to wire in the Coyote Lakes. In the Gallant Fox, Nite Light stalked Angelic Aura before taking over at the half-mile pole. Nite Light turned back a challenge from Successful Affair in upper stretch and cruised to the easy score, covering the 1 5/8 miles in 2:47.45 over a muddy inner track.

Contessa breaks New York win mark

Trainer Gary Contessa set a record for wins in one year on the New York Racing Association circuit Saturday when Silver Prospector won the first race at Aqueduct. The win was the 157th of 2007 at a NYRA track for Contessa, breaking the mark of 156 set by Frank Martin in 1974.

Contessa, who won his 158th race when Whistlin won the seventh, worked for Martin for five years before venturing out on his own in 1985.

"I'm very honored to have broken this record and I'm very honored to have broken one of Frank Martin's records, and I would have been equally honored if I was just tied with him," Contessa said from his upstate New York home, where he watched the record-setting victory with his wife and five children.

In 2007, Contessa won 151 races from 885 starters. Through Saturday, Contessa had started 1,128 horses in New York this year.

"This is something that will stand for a long time," Contessa said. "There'll be people who don't even remember me who'll know about the record."

Contessa tied the record on Wednesday, but went winless with 18 starters before Silver Prospector won. Silver Prospector is owned by Steve Sigler's Winning Move Stable, which won its 108th race of 2007.

"I couldn't have done this without Winning Move," Contessa said. "They took me to this plateau."