11/11/2003 1:00AM

Presidentialaffair rewards loyalist


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Martin Ciresa has purchased Presidentialaffair twice. On Tuesday, he was rewarded for his persistence.

Under Richard Migliore, Presidentialaffair took control soon after the start and held on for a neck victory over Thunder Blitz in the Grade 3, $110,300 Stuyvesant Handicap before a Veterans Day crowd of 4,398 at Aqueduct. Gander, who stalked Presidentialaffair for more than six furlongs, faded to third. Saarland, the 6-5 favorite, finished sixth of eight.

Ciresa originally purchased Presidentialaffair for $25,000 as a yearling for B J Partners. Presidentialaffair, who suffered a broken shin at 2 and a pulled muscle at 3, was taken away from Ciresa last year. Ciresa then claimed the gelding back for $25,000 in June. Ciresa had always wanted to stretch Presidentialaffair out in distance and finally was able to do so this fall. Since then, Presidentialaffair has won two of three route races and was beaten a nose by Docent in the Maryland Million Classic.

On Tuesday, Migliore let Presidentialaffair take him to the front and they set modest fractions of 24.42 seconds, 48.45, and, 1:12.09 while Gander chased in second. Presidentialaffair opened up a 3 1/2-length lead in the stretch and just held off the late surge of Thunder Blitz.

"We were hoping [Thunder Blitz] would go and we could relax off of him, but nobody went," said Ciresa, who trains Presidentialaffair for his father, Edward Ciresa, and partner Vincent Papandrea. "Richie just sat there and they were basically walking for those kind of horses. I really thought he was going to win by three, but he got a little tired."

Presidentialaffair ($16) covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.86 over a fast track.

Migliore said the key to victory was getting Presidentialaffair to "contain" his early speed. The Stuyvesant was one of four victories on Tuesday's card for Migliore, and it was his third straight Aqueduct card with a stakes win.

Saarland continues to disappoint. Though a bit wide, Saarland was in good stalking position but "then we got to the half-mile pole and he just came off the bridle," jockey John Velazquez said. Saarland has lost his last nine stakes tries.