12/03/2007 1:00AM

Peitz taking his time with Perfect Vow

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - Coming off a smashing comeback victory in a first-level allowance race last month at Aqueduct, it would not have been surprising had Perfect Vow showed up in a stakes race for his next start.

But with big plans for Perfect Vow's 4-year-old season, trainer Danny Peitz wanted to play it on the conservative side, which is why Perfect Vow will make his next start in a second-level allowance race Wednesday at Aqueduct. The $58,000 race also has an optional claiming clause of $50,000, for which three of the nine runners are eligible.

Peitz had high hopes for Perfect Vow back in the spring at Oaklawn, but a neck injury diagnosed following the colt's maiden win in March set him back. On Nov. 2, he returned to the races in a six-furlong allowance heat, unleashing a powerful stretch run that carried him to a 3 1/2-length victory. He ran six furlongs in 1:09.44 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92. Because of that performance, Peitz elected not to rush back in the Grade 3 Discovery just 22 days later and run at 1 1/8 miles.

"Had that been a mile, I probably would have thought about it," Peitz said. "He ran so fast, I was worried about bringing him back too soon. I originally planned to run him three times before we went to Hot Springs, but I needed to give him more time."

Peitz is hoping Perfect Vow proves worthy of running in Oaklawn Park's series of races for older horses that includes the Grade 3 Essex in February, the Grade 3 Razorback in March, and the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April.

Perfect Vow has trained just as well out of his allowance win as he did going in, Peitz said. That includes a pair of bullet workouts over the Belmont training track.

"He's trained the same," Peitz said. "He came out of it in good shape. I guess if I do have any concern, it's that he's going to be too sharp. I don't want him to go busting out of there. I think he'll be okay if he can get a little pace in front of him and [jockey Rajiv Maragh] can get him over where he can settle."

Indian Hawke or Three in the Bag, whichever one trainer Tony Dutrow opts to run, figures to be on the pace along with Hurrah.

Steppenwolfer on comeback trail

Peitz said Steppenwolfer, who finished third in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, is attempting to come back from a cracked knee diagnosed earlier this year. Steppenwolfer has not run since finishing last in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day.

Steppenwolfer has been recuperating at a farm in Ocala, Fla., where he recently had the tack put on him. Peitz said Steppenwolfer will soon begin jogging and will likely join his stable sometime early in the Oaklawn meet. Peitz was not sure if Steppenwolfer will run at that meet.

Steppenwolfer has proved proficient on both dirt and turf, giving Peitz plenty of options to look at when the colt gets ready to run.

"With him, we could probably go either way," he said. "I'm sure we're going to end up back on the grass at some point again."

No concrete plans for Sherine

Sherine can run short, long, and even turf. Oh yeah, and she's a New York-bred, too. Those factors will give her connections plenty of options to consider when they begin the process of plotting her 3-year-old campaign.

Sherine confirmed her ability to go long by winning Sunday's East View Stakes for New York-bred fillies by 3 3/4 lengths at Aqueduct. She ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.36 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 86. Four weeks ago, Sherine won a six-furlong allowance race by 11 1/4 lengths, running six furlongs in 1:10.03 and earning an 87 Beyer. In August, she won a turf maiden race at Saratoga.

Her trainer, Tony Dutrow, said Monday that he's still not sure how good Sherine is, though he does think she's better on the dirt.

"This filly going long is absolutely useful as a 3-year-old," Dutrow said. "How good is she? I don't know how good she is. I have reason to hope that Sherine is a nice filly."

Dutrow said he has not yet spoken to owner Ahmed Zayat about what would be next for Sherine. Aqueduct traditionally hosts the Busanda Stakes for 3-year-old fillies in January, though the New York Racing Association has not yet released its 2008 stakes schedule.

Arboleda returns to New York

Apprentice jockey Aldo Arboleda is returning to New York to ride. He is named on four horses Wednesday and three more Thursday. He will be represented by agent Paul DeMarco.

Arboleda had 4 winners from 23 mounts during the Aqueduct main-track meet, but left to ride the Fair Grounds meet when it opened on Nov. 22. His agent, Randy Romero, is suffering from a urinary tract infection, likely related to his kidney and liver ailments. Romero said Monday that he needed to take some time off.

Romero also said that Arboleda, who does not speak English very well, was more comfortable in New York than New Orleans. Arboleda, who began riding in August, has 12 career wins from 163 mounts.

Several riders head to Riyadh

Several North American riders will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to ride in Friday night's Crown Prince Cup at King Abudlaziz Track. The Crown Prince Cup is a stepping-stone to the King's Cup contested in February.

Among the jockeys participating are Eibar Coa, Kent Desormeaux, Edgar Prado, Cornelio Velasquez, and John Velazquez. Desormeaux is expected to ride Premium Tap, the former John Kimmel-trained colt who in 2005 won the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga and the Clark Handicap and in between finished third in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Premium Tap was purchased by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and his sons and won the 2006 King's Cup as a prep to the Dubai World Cup, in which he finished second to Invasor. On Nov. 2, Premium Tap won a race in Saudi Arabia by seven lengths as a stepping-stone to this. In Saudi Arabia, Premium Tap is known as Allam.