11/12/2001 12:00AM

Lake: If you can't beat him, claim him

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - Arromanches is turning into the Cigar of the claiming ranks.

Arromanches, an 8-year-old son of Relaunch, won for the eight consecutive time on Sunday, taking a $50,000 claiming race by a nose over Esteemed Friend at Aqueduct. He is now halfway to the modern day record of 16 consecutive victories shared by Citation and Cigar.

Fed up with watching Arromanches beat their horses, owner Richard Englander and trainer Scott Lake claimed Arromanches for $50,000.

"I wanted to take him last time but Englander kind of hesitated," said Lake, whose horse Esteemed Friend has finished second to Arromanches in each of his last two outings. "He had the horse before. He knew the horse had back problems, so we passed on him. I got tired of seeing him winning, beating me, so we took him."

On March 3, 1999, Englander and trainer Richard Schosberg claimed Arromanches for $65,000. Englander won twice with the horse before losing him to Richard Dutrow Jr. for $65,000 on April 18, 1999. Including Sunday, Arromanches has been claimed eight times in the last two years.

Gary Contessa had Arromanches for eight races in 2000, winning five times after taking him for $35,000. He claimed him back for $35,000 on Aug. 18 from Danny Lopez, who had guided Arromanches through the first five wins of his current streak. Contessa said he was not surprised that Englander claimed Arromanches.

"I think everybody knew that Englander was the kind of guy that would take a horse like that," Contessa said. "I think he was getting sick and tired of getting beat by him. I'm always disappointed getting rid of a win machine like that. I don't know, he might win 15 in a row. Sooner or later it has to come to an end. I didn't want to lose him, but I didn't want, at his age and as good as he's been to us, to run him above his head."

Lake said he wasn't sure whether he would run Arromanches within 30 days, when he would have to run for at least $62,500, 25 percent higher than the price for which he was claimed. After 30 days, Lake can run him at any level. Lake said he did not feel pressure trying to keep the win streak alive.

"He's going to get beat sooner or later," Lake said. "It's hard to win three in a row let alone eight in a row. What he's done is amazing. We took him and hope he keeps running well."

For his career, Arromanches has won 26 races from 67 starts and earned $672,095.

Gander, Volponi may meet in Clark

Gander and Volponi, winners of the two most prestigious races at The Meadowlands this fall, could meet in the $400,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23.

Both horses put in solid workouts on Sunday at Belmont Park and their connections are weighing their options.

Gander, the Meadowlands Cup winner who finished ninth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, drilled five furlongs in 58.14 seconds over Belmont's main track on Sunday. It was the fastest of 22 moves at the distance.

"We're thinking about it," trainer John Terranova said of the Clark. "I wanted to see him breeze and how he came back out of that work. It was awesome. He's in great shape since the Breeders' Cup. He didn't get the chance to run the kind of race he needed to run [in the Breeders' Cup]. He seems no worse for wear."

Terranova, who left for California on Sunday to set up a small string at Hollywood Park for the winter, said the Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct on Dec. 1 is another option.

Volponi, who won the Pegasus in his last start, breezed six furlongs Sunday in 1:14.24 over Belmont's training track. Trainer Phil Johnson said he is considering the Clark and the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, but is leaning toward the Clark because it is around two turns.

"Although he's run decent races going a mile," Johnson said, "he's run better races around two turns with the exception of the Travers."

One more race for Delaware Township

Delaware Township, the multiple graded-stakes-winning sprinter, will make the 21st and final start of his career in Saturday's Grade 1 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park. On Monday, at Belmont, he drilled four furlongs in 46.24 seconds, the fastest of 30 moves at the distance.

Delaware Township, who won the Grade 1 Forego Handicap at Saratoga, last ran in the Breeders' Cup Sprint where he finished sixth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Squirtle Squirt.

"I thought he ran a good race," trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said. "The last thing we expected was the three speed horses out there in such a slow pace like that. He doesn't like to be in tight and El Corredor had him pinned in some. He made a real good run, but it was too little, too late."

Perkins said Jerry Bailey would ride Delaware Township in the De Francis. Perkins said no stud plans have been made for the son of Notebook as of yet.

* Affirmed Success, the 1999 Cigar Mile winner, breezed six furlongs in 1:11.43 Monday over Belmont's main track in preparation for this year's Cigar Mile to be run on Nov. 24.

* Yonaguska, winner of the Sport Page Handicap at Belmont on Breeders' Cup Day, worked five furlongs in 59.45 seconds on Sunday in preparation for the Fall Highweight Handicap on Nov. 22. Silky Sweep, who finished second in the Sport Page, worked five furlongs in 1:00.05 and is also targeting the Fall Highweight.