Updated on 09/17/2011 12:09PM

Gallant Fox: Count Levine in


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - They may be able to run the Gallant Fox Handicap without Coyote Lakes, but they won't run it without his trainer, Bruce Levine. When the $75,000 Gallant Fox is run at Aqueduct Saturday for the 65th time, Levine will aim for his fifth victory in the 13-furlong race when he saddles Patriot's Song.

Levine has won the last three runnings of the Gallant Fox with Coyote Lakes, who ran in the race each of the last five years. But infirmities and old age caught up with the gallant 9-year-old gelding, and Coyote Lakes has been retired.

Dale Romans had trained Patriot's Song, but when Romans elected not to keep a string in New York this winter, the owners of Patriot's Song turned him over to Levine, presumably because of Levine's uncanny success in this race. Levine also won the 1998 Gallant Fox with Aavelord.

Patriot's Song will need all of Levine's Gallant Fox expertise to have a chance on Saturday. Patriot's Song has not run since Oct. 11 when he finished second in a second-level allowance race on turf. Before that, Patriot's Song won an entry-level allowance race going 11 furlongs on dirt by 18 1/2 lengths at Belmont.

Romans was hoping the Nov. 22 Red Smith Handicap, scheduled for 11 furlongs on turf, would be rained off to the main track, but that didn't happen.

Levine worked Patriot's Song a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.17 on Monday over Belmont's training track, and liked what he saw, but he knows Patriot's Song faces a tall task on Saturday.

"What's going to hurt him is that he hasn't run since October, and to go a mile and five-eighths without having run in two months is kind of tough," Levine said. "His last race was on grass, which also makes it tough. You'd rather have dirt races - it puts more into them."

Patriot's Song gets in at 113 pounds and will break from post 9 in the 10-horse field. Jarf, who drew outside of Patriot's Song, won the prep for the Gallant Fox in gate-to-wire fashion on Dec. 10. He must carry highweight of 118 pounds and figures to get some early pace pressure from Phish and Golden Ticket.

Tailfromthecrypt and Levendis, who finished second and third behind Jarf in that Dec. 10 race, are back as is Fisher Pond, who finished third in this race last year. Nothing Flat, Loving, and Silent Fred round out the field.

Meanwhile, Coyote Lakes left Levine's Belmont Park barn Sunday for an upstate New York farm. He will eventually wind up at Alfred University in western New York. Alfred University houses retired racehorses and also has a steeplechase program, and Coyote Lakes could be made into a jumper.

Levine also has Robb hopeful

In addition to running Patriot's Song in Saturday's Gallant Fox, Levine will send out Looks Expensive in Sunday's $75,000 Alex M. Robb Handicap for New York-breds at 1 1/16 miles.

Looks Expensive, a gelded son of Expensive Decision, is coming off a front-running entry-level allowance win against open company on Nov. 29.

"It was a better race than it looks on paper," Levine said. "There was no speed; it was a very slow pace and he doesn't like to run that way. I think he'll get a fast pace in the Robb. He breezed three-quarters on Sunday and he breezed good."

A large field is shaping up for the Robb, the final stakes to be run in New York in 2003. Lord ofthe Thunder is the assigned highweight of 119 pounds and is expected to start after working a sharp five furlongs in 1:01.19 on Sunday at Aqueduct. Also likely to run are Trial Prep (116), Mount Intrepid (115), Levendis (114), Netcong (114), Personable Pete (114), Rogue Agent (114), Salute Him (114), Looks Expensive (113), Mr. Determined (113), and Yourstocommand (111).

Distressed Debt likely in Count Fleet

Trainer Rick Violette was completing the lengthy drive Monday from New York to Florida, where he will soon be reunited with Remsen Stakes winner and Kentucky Derby prospect Read the Footnotes. However, Read the Footnotes is not the only soon-to-be 3-year-old New York-bred son of Smoke Glacken that Violette is looking forward to running in 2004.

Distressed Debt won a two-turn, entry-level allowance race by 6 3/4 lengths on Dec. 17 and is likely to make his next start in the $75,000 Count Fleet Stakes on Jan. 3 over the inner track.

"It's a little quick back, 17 days, but with the level of competition it's something to consider," Violette said. "We have time to get one breeze into him and that should do it."

Violette has always been high on Distressed Debt and doesn't believe he is a need-the-lead type, though he won last week's allowance race on the lead.

"I don't think he has to be on the lead, he just needs to make his own pace," Violette said. "He doesn't need to be run off his feet."

Violette said no decision has been made whether Ladies Handicap winner Savedbythelight will run again or be bred to Empire Maker as scheduled.

Bridgmohan suspended

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan began a seven-day suspension on Monday for careless riding that resulted in the disqualification of Seven Come Eleven from first in last Friday's sixth race. Other than that, Bridgmohan had a good weekend, winning three races on both Saturday and Sunday.

As part of the designated race rule, Bridgmohan may ride in Saturday's W.L. McKnight Handicap and La Prevoyante Handicap at Calder. If he rides in either race, one extra day will be tacked on to his suspension.