04/03/2004 1:00AM

Kaufy Mate captures Aventura in a romp

Kaufy Mate easily wins the Aventura Stakes under jockey Manoel Cruz.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Ralph Ziadie has won Grade 1 races with Sir Bear, Silver Wagon, and Trust N Luck. But he has never shown more emotion in the winner's circle than after his son Kirk sent out Kaufy Mate to post a convincing 4 1/2-length victory over Humorously in Saturday's $250,000 .

"I told you he was going to be even better than me," said the elder Ziadie, fighting back some tears. "He has done a great job with this horse."

Kaufy Mate won his maiden race under a $40,000 claiming price last fall at Calder but did not gain recognition until earlier this winter, when he upset The Cliff's Edge in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. He came into the Aventura off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby.

Kaufy Mate and jockey Manoel Cruz won the Aventura with a quick move midway down the backstretch, splitting the pacesetting favorite, Forest Grove, and Humorously to challenge for the lead. Kaufy Mate quickly drew clear on the far turn then increased his advantage in the final furlong.

Humorously forced the early pace and held on well to finish second, a neck ahead of the late-striding Baronage.

Kaufy Mate, a son of Diligence, is owned by Gregory Kaufman. He went 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.67 and paid $11.80.

"I learned from the best," said the younger Ziadie. "I give my owner a lot of credit. I wanted to give this horse time off after the Tampa Derby but he nominated him to this race. He's not a Derby horse. I'll give him a break now and bring him back at Calder."

Jackpot hits stakes pot

Jackpot made the jump from allowance to Grade 2 company and struck it rich on Saturday, rallying to a two-length victory over Newfoundland in the $300,000 . Seattle Fitz, the 3-5 favorite, tired badly through the stretch to finish last in a field of six older horses.

Jackpot, winless since capturing his second-level allowance condition over the Aqueduct turf course 11 months ago, was making his stakes debut in the 1 1/4-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap. With jockey Joe Bravo aboard for the first time, Jackpot rated five lengths off the early pace of The Lady's Groom, came three wide to commence his rally entering the stretch, and then easily ran by the tiring leader inside the sixteenth pole to win going away.

Newfoundland, the 117-pound highweight, raced within easy striking distance from the outset but could not match Jackpot's final surge. The Lady's Groom held a clear advantage through midstretch before tiring in the final sixteenth of a mile.

Seattle Fitz, close up and saving ground, had no response when set down on the final turn, ultimately finishing 14 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

Jackpot, a homebred son of Seeking the Gold, is trained by Shug McGaughey for owner Cynthia Phipps. He covered the distance in 2:02.80 seconds and returned $36.20 as the second-longest price on the board.

"I worked him the other morning and he went very well," said Bravo. "Shug told me the further the distance the better; just to keep keep him close and let him make one run. Even though he was a longshot, anytime you ride a horse for Shug you go into the race with a lot of confidence."