05/03/2002 11:00PM

Fast Decision takes Withers

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - Fast Decision, trying stakes company for the first time, won Saturday's $150,000 Withers, a Grade 3 for 3-year-olds, at Aqueduct.

Fast Decision, stalked the pace under Jose Santos and seized the lead from the pacesetter, Shah Jehan, in deep stretch and stormed home a three-quarter-length winner.

Shah Jehan, who finished second, carved out fractions of 23.52 seconds, 46.37, and 1:10.92 and finished 4 1/2 lengths in front of Listen Here. Monthir, the slight 9-5 favorite over Shah Jehan, checked in fourth and was followed under the wire by Lord ofthe Thunder, who completed the order of finish in the five-horse field.

Fast Decision ($11.40) covered the mile in 1:36.41 over a fast track. It was the slowest running of the Withers in 12 years.

Fast Decision, owned by Peter F. Karches, a vice chairman of the New York Racing Association, won a maiden race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 23 in his second start. The Gulch colt, bought for $210,000 as a yearling in Saratoga, returned and won a first-level allowance race, also at Gulfstream, on March 16. Both wins came at seven furlongs.

Fast Decision's trainer, Christophe Clement, said before the Withers that his colt was an improving sort. Clement, noted for his expertise with turf runners, won his third Withers after victories with Blu Tusmani in 1995 and Statesmanship in 1997. Karches owned Statesmanship in partnership.

Santos, who also had won two prior running of the Withers, including his victory aboard Blu Tusmani for Clement, said, "I can't believe I am winning a dirt stakes for Christophe Clement. This horse reminds me of his dad, Gulch."

Clement said he had no immediate plans for Fast Decision.

Following his Withers win, Fast Decision has $131,200 in earnings from a record of 3-0-0 in four starts.