01/18/2002 12:00AM

My Cousin Matt exception to Ribaudo rule

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - Trainer Bobby Ribaudo said that running in a stakes off a maiden win isn't something that he normally would do.

But Ribaudo will take that route with My Cousin Matt* in Monday's $75,000-added Fred "Cappy" Capossela at Aqueduct.

A couple of factors convinced Ribaudo the timing is right to run My Cousin Matt in the Capossela, a sprint for 3-year-olds. Ribaudo likes the fact a short field is anticipated and said My Cousin Matt's six career starts have given the gelding essential racing experience.

Ribaudo said securing black type on My Cousin Matt, a son of Matty G, in the Capossela would mean a great deal to the horse's breeder and owner, Don Marino. Marino owns My Cousin Matt's dam, Conquistamiss, and also owns My Cousin Matt's 2-year-old full brother.

"[My Cousin Matt] is a homebred, so it would be nice to get stakes-placed," Ribaudo said. "I think he has a lot of potential. He matured early and has some races under his belt, so it's not like running a maiden winner that is green. By the time the Best Turn rolls around next month the field might get larger, so this might be the time to do it. There's always a nonwinners-of -one out there."

In his first start since October, My Cousin Matt came from off the pace to win a six-furlong maiden race on Dec. 29 by a half-length in a 12-horse field. My Cousin Matt ran five times prior to his first win, including three starts on grass, where he finished second on two occasions.

"I think I overdid it with him and ran him a little more than I should have," Ribaudo said. "He started to get nervous and washed out, so I backed off him. Right now he's very composed."

The others pointing to the Capossela are Pharaoh's Cat, President Butler, Spin Zone, and War Native.

Correction next target for La Galerie

After destroying a field of allowance runners on Thursday at Aqueduct, La Galerie will be nominated to the $75,000-added Correction Handicap here on Feb. 2.

La Galerie's 9 3/4-length win in 1:10.63 for six furlongs was very satisfying for her trainer, John Kimmel, who said she has been a "hard-luck filly."

La Galerie was a Group 1 winner in Argentina before her American campaign began in 2000. La Galerie has won two allowance races for Kimmel, but was never a factor in five stakes starts.

"She always trained like a quality horse and I was shocked that she was 5-1 [Thursday]," Kimmel said. "On her day, I knew she would annihilated those fillies.

"It's been one thing after another with her," Kimmel added. "One day she was on the training track and another horse cut in front of her and she wrenched an ankle. I had her right in the fall and I couldn't get a money allowance race to fill. I had to settle for a Meadowlands stakes on the grass, no less, and she didn't like that at all. I ran her back on the dirt there and the track was too hard for her."

* Sunday's feature is a $48,000 third-level allowance. Five older males entered the 1 1/16-mile race, including John Little, a winner of his last two starts over the inner track. Iron Chancellor returns after finishing fourth behind the impressive My Request, a runaway winner at this level on Jan. 4.

* Smooth Jazz, who won his career debut in professional-looking fashion here on Jan. 13, will run next in the $75,000-added Best Turn on Feb. 23, according to his owner and trainer, Tony Dutrow.

* Wrangler, being pointed to Saturday's $75,000-added Paumonok, worked a bullet half-mile in 47.41 seconds, handily, on Friday at Belmont. Wrangler's trainer, Jimmy Jerkens, also worked Voodoo five furlongs in 1:02.13, breezing. Voodoo is under consideration for the $200,000 General George at Laurel on Feb. 18.

* Apprentice Leo Espinoza was sent to North Shore University Hospital with a concussion after a spill in Friday's fourth race. Paul Toscano, also involved in the spill at the top of the stretch, was uninjured. Apprentice Alex Estrada wasn't injured when he was unseated in a one-horse spill in the second race. None of the horses involved suffered injuries, according to the track veterinarian, Dr. Anthony Verderosa.

* Jockey Aaron Gryder will be honored by the New York Press Photographers Association on Jan. 26 at an awards dinner feting New York athletes at Terrace on the Park in Flushing, Queens.

* Aqueduct is open for live racing on Monday, and dark on Tuesday and Wednesday. The track will be open for simulcasting on Wednesday.

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