01/18/2003 12:00AM

Philadelphia Jim heads Capossela

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Owner Michael Gill has made quite a splash at Gulfstream Park this winter, primarily with the claiming horses he has with trainer Mark Shuman. But, Gill also spent $2.5 million last year on 2-year-olds.

One of those purchases, Philadelphia Jim, looms a heavy favorite in Monday's $75,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct. A field of five was entered for the six-furlong stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings.

Philadelphia Jim, a son of Mr. Greeley, sold for $300,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales 2-year-olds in training sales last February. He made his debut in June at Delaware Park and romped to an eight-length score in a five-furlong race.

Shortly after that race, Philadelphia Jim had surgery to remove a small chip from an ankle and did not return to the races until Dec. 15 at Aqueduct. That day, he finished a solid second behind the unbeaten Unforgettable Max. Philadelphia Jim came back on New Year's Day to win the Dancing Count Stakes at Laurel Park, earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

"All his races have been very impressive," trainer John Robb said from Laurel. "When he got beat he wasn't as tight as he should have been. We were using that as a tightener, not expecting to catch [Unforgettable Max]. We caught a bear that day."

Robb said he does not view Philadelphia Jim as strictly a sprinter, and plans to stretch him out to a route distance in his next start.

Robb also does not see Philadelphia Jim as strictly a front-runner, and said he believes he can sit off the pace should one of his rivals on Monday be intent on the lead. Philadelphia Jim will break from post 4 under jockey Ramon Dominguez and will carry high weight of 120 pounds.

The New York-bred Unswept and recent allowance winner Alysweep loom the main challengers to Philadelphia Jim. Unswept, trained by Gary Contessa, cuts back to a sprint after finishing second to Grey Comet in the 1 1/16-mile Damon Runyon Stakes. Unswept did win a state-bred allowance race by 7 1/2 lengths two starts back.

Alysweep, claimed for $75,000 by trainer Patrick Reynolds and owner Michael Dubb off a winning effort on Dec. 15, comes off an 8 3/4-length allowance score in the slop on Jan. 1. Both races came over Aqueduct's inner track.

"We know the horse of John Robb's is really fast, but off our last race I really got to like our horse," Reynolds said. "We'll see when he gets in there with a real horse."

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