11/15/2004 1:00AM

Kimmel's prospects look bright for next year

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Rockport Harbor, winning the Nashua Stakes, has won his three starts by a combined 22 1/2 lengths.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Since winning the Florida Derby with Friends Lake in March, business has been quite slow for trainer John Kimmel.

"Slow is not the word," Kimmel said. "Nonexistent."

But times they are a changing.

Since Nov. 6, Kimmel has won five races at Aqueduct. More importantly, four of those wins have come with 2-year-olds, giving Kimmel hope as 2005 approaches. Of his last nine winners in New York, six have been 2-year-olds.

"I didn't have many good older horses," said Kimmel, whose 33 wins this year have him on pace for his least productive season since 1993. "If you're not getting quality horses shipped to you that are not already made, then it falls back on developing young horses. It looks like this group is now starting to come around. I won five or six 2-year-old races, and I got some more that are getting close to running."

Kimmel's recent maiden winners include Shorty Knudtson, Premium Tap, Classy Charm, and Power Link. Premium Tap, a son of Pleasant Tap, won a six-furlong maiden race by nine lengths Nov. 7, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 92.

"I always liked Premium Tap. I thought that he was a nice colt," Kimmel said. "He got slammed around in his second start."

The day before Premium Tap won, Shorty Knudtson, a son of Thunder Gulch, won a seven-furlong race by three lengths and returned $54.50.

"He had been training well," he said. "There was nothing I didn't like about him."

Power Link, a New York-bred gelded son of Successful Appeal, won a statebred maiden race by 6 1/2 lengths last Saturday. Kimmel could run him back in the $75,000 Damon Runyon Stakes over the inner track Dec. 12.

Kimmel, who will only leave three or four horses in New York this winter, may fire some more bullets before heading south. He is particularly high on City Weekend, a son of Carson City who got loose one morning at Saratoga and scraped his hind ankles while running down Union Avenue. City Weekend may make his debut over the Thanksgiving weekend. Kimmel also has a couple of 2-year-olds by Awesome Again that he wants to get started either by the end of this year or early in the Gulfstream meet.

Kimmel said he is hoping this crop of 2-year-olds plus his future crop of 2-year-olds will help bring his stable back to the level it was from 1996-2002, when he averaged 90 winners a year.

"Hopefully by this time next year we'll have a little more balance in the stable and be back where it should be," Kimmel said. "This operation should be able to compete with the top end here."

Rockport Harbor will go in Remsen

Following Rockport Harbor's professional victory in the Nashua Stakes on Nov. 2, trainer John Servis said Rockport Harbor would probably not run again this year. Servis has had a change of heart.

With one eye on the present and another on the future, Servis said Rockport Harbor would return to Aqueduct to run in the $200,000 Remsen Stakes on Nov. 27. The Grade 2 status of the race is the major reason why Servis is running Rockport Harbor again. Servis recalled that dual classic winner Smarty Jones could have been left out of the Kentucky Derby due to insufficient graded stakes earnings before winning the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby.

"I didn't want to be in the same position I was last year with the graded money," Servis said Monday. "That was a lot of it. I don't want to throw my eggs in one basket."

Rockport Harbor, a son of Unbridled's Song, has won all three of his starts this year by a combined 22 1/2 lengths. He passed a minor test winning the Nashua, a one-turn mile stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 2, but his final time of 1:36.67 was slower than the time Summer Raven ran in winning the Tempted for juvenile fillies.

Although Servis said he likes the idea of getting a two-turn race into Rockport Harbor before the end of the year, he is not crazy about running him the 1 1/8 miles of the Remsen.

"I think that's too far to run a 2-year-old," Servis said. "I don't have many options."

One option would have been to run Rockport Harbor in Saturday's Laurel Futurity, a Grade 3 race run at 1 1/16 miles. But Servis said he didn't like having just 18 days between races.

The Remsen is also expected to attract Galloping Grocer, a New York-bred who is also 3 for 3.

Great Intentions impresses in debut

Great Intentions, a 2-year-old daughter of Cat Thief, made an eye-catching debut Sunday, winning a six-furlong maiden event by 6 3/4 lengths. She ran six furlongs in 1:10.86, which was 1.41 seconds faster than the time Stormy Grand Banks ran in winning the other division of this race.

Trainer Mike Hushion had no immediate plans for Great Intentions, who will be one of 11 horses Hushion will have stabled at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida. Hushion, who usually contends for Aqueduct's inner track trainers' title, said the bad weather the last few winters forced him to send some of his stock south.

"The last couple of years I didn't feel like I could do justice for the 2-year-olds turning 3," said Hushion, who added he would take some turf horses and some claimers to Florida.