12/29/2004 1:00AM

Marathon suits Tamburello

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
After losing his first six starts in the U.S., Tamburello scores by 3 3/4 lengths in the Gallant Fox Handicap.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Tamburello was shipped from Chile to North America earlier this year in order to be sold. When several proposed sales fell through, New York-based trainer Michael Miceli assumed ownership of the 5-year-old gelding.

There may be renewed interest in Tamburello following the Chilean-bred's decisive 3 3/4-length victory in Wednesday's $82,700 at Aqueduct. Despite a nine-day holiday break and a pleasant afternoon weather-wise, a crowd of only 2,779 attended the races.

Colita, the 4-5 favorite, failed for the seventh time to win a stakes, but got up for second by a nose over Hydrogen. New York Hero, Country Be Gold, Dr. Rockett, Limero, and American Style completed the order of finish.

Tamburello went 7 for 21 in Chile, including a couple of wins at 1 3/16 miles, which made Miceli confident Tamburello could get the Gallant Fox distance of 1 5/8 miles. Tamburello had lost his previous six starts in North America, but had put forth some respectable efforts.

On Dec. 3, Tamburello had a three-length lead in the stretch, but faded to third behind Snake Mountain and Song of the Sword. Wednesday, jockey Norberto Arroyo got Tamburello to relax in sixth position early before launching a bid around the far turn and making the lead turning for home.

"The other day when I ran him he was a little too close to the pace," Miceli said. "Today, he relaxed much nicer. When he's allowed to do something like that he will finish strong."

Tamburello covered the 1 5/8 miles in 2:43.95 and returned $17.60 as the fourth choice in the eight-horse field.

Colita was made the heavy favorite based on his high-profile connections - trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez - and a couple of recent stakes placings.

"Going down the backside I thought it was all me," said Velazquez. "Then, on the turn, I put him in a drive and said 'Uh-oh. It's not all me.' "