03/06/2004 1:00AM

Ground Storm reclaims Stymie


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Ground Storm splashed to a 1 1/4-length win in Saturday's $81,625 Stymie Handicap at Aqueduct, winning the race for the second time in the last three years.

Big Sid's Party finished second in the 1 1/8-mile Stymie, which was run in the slop. It was another four lengths to Nothing Flat, who finished third. Classic Endeavor, Lord Ofthe Thunder, and Levendis completed the order of finish.

Loving, the morning-line favorite, was scratched because he has a quarter crack, according to his trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr.

Javier Castellano rode Ground Storm, who won the 2002 Stymie and was third to Snake Mountain last year.

Classic Endeavor, with jockey C.C. Lopez in the saddle, controlled the pace through fractions of 23.40 seconds, 47.83, and 1:12.36. Ground Storm, who raced in third position for the first six furlongs, ranged up around the turn and held a clear lead with a furlong remaining.

Castellano, who rode Ground Storm when he won the Stymie two years ago, said, "I knew at the half-mile pole I had a lot of horse. He started looking around at the puddles [in the stretch], but I got his attention. He knows what to do."

Ground Storm ($5.30) covered the distance in 1:50.92, the slowest winning time for the Stymie since More to Tell won in 1:51.40 in 1996.

Ground Storm, an 8-year-old son of Summer Squall, is owned by Centennial Farms and trained by Bill Mott. On Saturday, he was saddled by Mott's assistant, Arthur Tsiamis.

According to Tsiamis, Mott "had been hoping to put him in an optional claimer, but that race didn't go. This was the next logical spot. Obviously, he is still good enough."

With his win in the Stymie, Ground Storm has earnings of $587,960 and is 11-9-7 in 34 starts.