02/10/2003 1:00AM

Down time aided Peeping Tom

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Almost a year to the day of his last victory, Peeping Tom flashed signs of his former Grade 1-winning self Sunday at Aqueduct, taking a classified allowance race by a head over loose-on-the-lead Captain Red.

It was the first victory for Peeping Tom since he won a money allowance over the inner track on Feb. 10, 2002. It was only his second win since taking the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on May 6, 2001.

Sunday's race could set up Peeping Tom for a return to stakes company. Trainer Pat Reynolds said Monday that he may point Peeping Tom, a 6-year-old gelding, to the Toboggan Handicap on March 15.

"We'll certainly take a look at it,'' Reynolds said. "He's got a good inner track record, but seven-eighths is probably his best distance. His [2001] General George and his Carter are his best races. Going seven, you don't have to rush him. The day he won the General George, he'd have beaten anybody in the world. As his owner said yesterday, when he feels like running he runs.''

Peeping Tom was one of racing's rags-to-riches stories in 2001. Claimed for $40,000 by Reynolds and Lou Milazzo's Flatbird Stable in March 2000, Peeping Tom became a multiple graded stakes winner in 2001. But he tailed off and eventually returned to the claiming ranks last June, finishing sixth for a $50,000 claiming tag. Sensing the horse had gotten sour - not to mention a little achy - Reynolds turned him out for a while.

Peeping Tom returned to the races on Jan. 16, finishing second to Captain Red, who he ran down Sunday. Peeping Tom covered six furlongs in 1:10.08 over a fast track.

"Some wins are very satisfying, and I was very pleased,'' Reynolds said. "It was a good feeling winning with him. It was a legitimate bunch, a good time, and he did it with style.''

Reynolds noted that before his six-month freshening, Peeping Tom had run 27 times in a 26-month span with only one three-month break in between. During that stretch, he made a trip to Dubai.

"He was in desperate need of a rest,'' Reynolds said. "I also think the cold weather really perks him up. When he ran last month, he was a little short. The saying that a race is worth three workouts is especially true for a horse like him.''

Boston Park may return for Gotham

Boston Park, the front-running upset winner of Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes, may make his next start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Gotham Stakes over Aqueduct's main track on March 16, his connections said Monday.

"He is going to head for the Gotham,'' said Peter Hutton, the Belmont Park-based assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "He is going to leave and go back to Florida because of the inconsistency of the track here - you don't want to lose too many days of training because of bad weather.''

Hutton said Boston Park would van back to Gulfstream on Thursday, but would be flown back to New York for the Gotham, the traditional one-mile prep for the Wood Memorial on April 12.

"He earned a first-class ticket instead of a bus ride,'' Hutton said.

Brightest Ice seeks fifth straight

When Brightest Ice won a second-level allowance race on Jan. 15 it was his fourth consecutive victory since Nov. 27 and it made trainer Bob Barbara 10 for 20 at the inner track meet.

Barbara has expectedly cooled - he is 0 for 9 since - but perhaps Brightest Ice can turn that around when he seeks his fifth consecutive victory in a third-level allowance race that serves as Wednesday's feature.

Adding spice to Wednesday's card is a pick six carryover of $45,708.

Barbara has always had high hopes for Brightest Ice, but it has only been recently that the 4-year-old gelding has realized them. He began his recent streak with a win at the $16,000 claiming level, won again for $35,000, and has since taken two allowance races.

"He had some problems with growth plates in his stifles, and he got really chicken when he wasn't comfortable,'' Barbara said. "Some of them have a big, tremendous heart to overcome those things, some just wimp out. It took for his mind and for his body to mature, because he's always had the talent. You had to make this horse 100 percent again before he would show it.''

The biggest obstacle facing the front-running Brightest Ice on Wednesday may be Tarek, who showed uncharacteristic speed when just missing in a $50,000 claiming race on Jan. 23. Brightest Ice drew inside of Tarek, so Barbara hopes that may help.

* Jockey Aaron Gryder will miss Wednesday and Thursday, as he was to make his second trip to Dubai in the last month to ride Go Underground in a stakes at Nad Al Sheba. Go Underground is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Maktoum Challenge Cup last month. Gryder said he expects to be back at Aqueduct on Friday.

* My Cousin Matt, preparing for next Monday's Grade 2 General George Handicap, worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.94 Monday at Belmont.