12/10/2001 1:00AM

Pimentel's new status doesn't bug Klesaris


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Come Friday, jockey Julian Pimentel makes one of the most difficult transitions in racing.

That's when Pimentel loses his apprentice status - and the attractive five-pound weight allowance that goes with it - and becomes a journeyman rider.

On Sunday, Pimentel gave himself some momentum by riding four winners on Aqueduct's nine-race card. He finished the first week of the inner track meet with seven winners to top the standings.

Pimentel, who became just the third apprentice to win The Meadowlands riding title this fall, knows that after Thursday demand for his services may lessen.

"I talked to some of the jockeys, they told me usually you don't get the same mounts when you lose the bug. But at the same time they told me I just have to keep working and meet people," said Pimentel, who turns 21 next month.

With his 141 wins from 987 mounts and two stakes wins, Pimentel should be a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding apprentice. The award, however, is likely to go to Jeremy Rose, who won 289 races and nine stakes riding primarily at Delaware Park.

There are two reasons to believe the drop-off in business for Pimentel may not be too severe. First, the quartet of Jerry Bailey, John Velazquez, Edgar Prado, and Jorge Chavez will all spend the winter riding in Florida. Second, Pimentel will still have the backing of trainer Bob Klesaris, for whom he rode many winners during the Meadowlands meet.

"I went to him at The Meadowlands mostly because he was winning and it was an added incentive that he had the five pounds," Klesaris said. "But I find him very similar to [Norberto] Arroyo when I worked with him last year. He pretty much followed instructions to a T, did what I told him to do. I had very few faults with him. He was patient and seemed to be making very good moves."

Klesaris has Pimentel named on three horses on Wednesday's card, and said he still plans to use him frequently after Pimentel becomes a journeyman.

"I'm not going to cut his head off, I'm still going to use him on quite a few of the horses he's been riding," said Klesaris, who will have 40 horses here this winter and could vie for the trainer's title. "I haven't settled on a rider for the winter. I use Arroyo, but we'll give [Pimentel] a fair shake."

Arroyo to miss a week

Arroyo, involved in an ugly spill on Saturday, will probably not ride this week, his agent, Max Hall, said.

Although he did not have any broken ribs as first feared, Arroyo was "very badly banged and bruised up," Hall said. Arroyo was kept Saturday night at North Shore Hospital and released Sunday morning. Hall said he would most likely take Arroyo off all his mounts for this week. The rider hopes to return on Dec. 19.

Arroyo was aboard Pete Shure in Saturday's opener when that horse clipped heels with Fast Modem and went down in upper stretch. Cryptoe Tap, under Lorenzo Lezcano, fell over Pete Shure. Arroyo was stepped on by both horses. Lezcano and both horses were not hurt.

Coyote Lakes on target for Gallant Fox

For the third straight December, Coyote Lakes won a 1 1/2-mile allowance race over the inner track and is now primed to make his fourth consecutive start in the Grade 3 Gallant Fox Handicap on Dec. 29.

Sunday, Coyote Lakes survived a spirited 12-furlong duel with Banner Headline to win the race by 2 1/4 lengths as the 4-5 favorite. Trainer Bruce Levine expressed some concern Monday morning about how much the race took out of his 7-year-old gelding.

"Time's going to tell," said Levine, who noted that all seemed well Monday morning. "The fractions were brutal. Forty-seven, 1:12, they weren't going that fast going 1 1/16 miles.

"Banner Headline," Levine noted, "had only one race back, he's got a right to improve. Mine's older - it makes me more nervous how it's going to affect mine."

Coyote Lakes, who is 6 for 10 over the inner track, will attempt to become the first horse to win the Gallant Fox twice in one year. The 2000 Gallant Fox was postponed to Jan. 1, 2001, because of weather.

Sandy and Tom co-highweights

Say Florida Sandy and Peeping Tom were both assigned 120 pounds and both are expected to start in Saturday's $75,000 Gravesend Handicap at six furlongs.

Say Florida Sandy, who won last year's Gravesend, has lost his last four races, including a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 De Frances Memorial Dash on Nov. 17. He has a 5-5-3 mark from 18 inner track starts.

Peeping Tom has lost his last five races since winning the Grade 1 Carter in May. He is coming out of a sixth-place in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile last time out. He is 4-1-1 from seven inner track starts.

Others expected to run are Governor's Pride (115), Here's Zealous (114), Sassy Hound (114), and Snow Ridge (113). Red's Honor (112), Vodka (110), and Dancing Missile (109) are possible.

- Turf racing has concluded for the season.