Updated on 09/16/2011 7:01AM

His new home's New York


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Trainer Erik Juvonen seeks his first New York stakes win with Short Note in Saturday's $100,000-added Cicada at Aqueduct. If Short Note gets the job done, it would be a good omen for Juvonen, who plans to extend his winter stay in New York to a year-round presence on the circuit.

Juvonen, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, has been in New York since Dec. 1 and has complied a respectable record of 5-6-6 from 41 starters, with all his winners coming since Jan. 1.

Instead of leaving next month for the start of Delaware Park's six-month meet, where he has spent the last three years, Juvonen will remain in New York with 16 to 20 horses, depending upon his stall allotment.

Juvonen, 31, said the reason he is staying put is because he wishes to upgrade the quality of his stable from claimers to allowance and stakes runners and believes New York is the place to do that.

"I did really well at Delaware Park and was winning at 20 percent or better, but I wanted to get better horses and keep going forward," Juvonen said during training hours at Belmont Park on Tuesday. "Delaware still has the stigma of a lesser track. It caters slightly more to claimers. I don't mind claiming, but to find a very good horse you have to be lucky."

Juvonen currently trains for three owners, including Michael Gambone, who owns Short Note. The trainer said Gambone backs his plan to remain in New York because the owner is keen on improving the quality of his stable, while focusing less on its size. Juvonen also said he has a deal in the works to gain a new client who would bring homebreds into his barn.

While Juvonen works on upgrading his stable, two horses he acquired through the claim box are doing very well for him and Gambone. Short Note, whom Juvonen snagged for $50,000 from a maiden race at Delaware last summer, has won two allowance races and is stakes-placed since the claim. Marshall Greeley, claimed at Gulfstream Park by Juvonen in 2000, ran a big race after a seven-month layoff by finishing second in a dead heat with Late Carson in a money allowance on Feb. 24. Juvonen plans on entering Marshall Greeley in a similar spot next week and said he's hopeful the sprinter will be a candidate for stakes later this year.

In addition to Short Note, the seven-furlong Cicada, a Grade 3 for 3-year-old fillies, is expected to attract Forest Heiress, the likely favorite, and Haunted Lass, Mrscoppolaskitchen, Proper Gamble, and Wilzada.

Forest Heiress, the winner of last year's Grade 3 Sorority, was the only horse on Tuesday's work tab at Aqueduct. The filly, who is trained by Ben Perkins Jr., went an easy half-mile in 51.21 seconds, breezing, around the dogs on a muddy track.

Critical Eye getting ready to race

Grade 1 winner Critical Eye is back in training for her 2002 campaign, which will be the 5-year-old's last before retiring to the breeding shed. In her last start, the New York-bred Critical Eye finished eighth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff in October.

Critical Eye, trained by Scott Schwartz for his father, Herbert, the mare's breeder, is scheduled to return in the $150,000-added Bed o' Roses on April 20. She already has a couple of three-furlong breezes at Aqueduct under her belt.

Schwartz is taking a slightly different approach to Critical Eye's schedule this year. Last year, Critical Eye finished fourth in her seasonal debut on March 24 in the seven-furlong Distaff Breeders' Cup, which will be run on March 30 this year. In her second start, Critical Eye was second, beaten a whisker, in the one-mile Bed o' Roses on April 21.

"Seven-eighths isn't her thing anyhow, so [the Distaff] is a meaningless race, Schwartz said. "It's a long year and you have to look at the whole picture, not just the first race."

Critical Eye, who won the Grade 1 Gazelle as a 3-year-old in 2000, had a mixed season last year. She won the Grade 1 Hempstead and Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay, but tailed off later in the summer and lost four consecutive starts to close out the season.

Schwartz said Critical Eye, a winner of $831,913, was sour following a long campaign, so he decided to turn her out for three months on a Florida farm, rather than keep her at Aqueduct as he did last winter.

"If I knew she would come back so good, I would have turned her out before," Schwartz said. "She's come back mentally fresh and much more fluid than she would have been if she stayed in her stall here and was walked a couple of times a day."

West Coast sprinter in feature

Thursday's feature, a $45,000 allowance at six furlongs, drew six older horses.

An intriguing runner in this otherwise ordinary field is Casual Country, who makes his first start for trainer Bruce Levine after racing on the West Coast. Casual Country finished fourth behind Squirtle Squirt, last year's champion sprinter, as a 2-year-old in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship.

Casual Country has been training sharply for his first race since June and has shown he can win off a long layoff.