03/21/2008 11:00PM

Rite Moment exceeds expectations

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Rite Moment, Rajiv Maragh riding, gets the lead late en route to winning the Distaff Handicap.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Perhaps no horse typifies the meet trainer Gary Contessa and owner Winning Move Stable have had this winter more than Rite Moment.

Like her connections, Rite Moment can succeed long or short, on wet ground or fast, and just keeps coming at you with no signs of regression.

Able to make her own running room in upper stretch, Rite Moment ran down pace-setting Your Flame in Me in the final 70 yards to win Saturday's Grade 2, $157,900 Distaff Handicap by one length at Aqueduct. Your Flame in Me held second by 2 1/4 lengths over longshot Scatkey. Control System, the 4-5 favorite, finished fourth and was followed by Beau Dare and Quality Affair.

The victory was the fourth in five starts since New Year's Day for Rite Moment, a 4-year-old daughter of Vicar. It was the meet-leading 75th victory for Contessa - his 12th stakes - and the 49th win for leading owner Winning Move, which partners on this horse with John Moirano and Seidman Stables.

Contessa bought Rite Moment from Midwest-based trainer Frank Springer last December and hoped he could win an allowance and perhaps a high-priced claiming race or two with her over the inner track. Instead, she has gone 4 for 5 with a graded stakes win at six furlongs and an overnight stakes win at a mile and 70 yards.

"She just exceeded my expectations," Contessa said. "She's a great filly. She's obviously never bounced. She comes back [on] two or three weeks rest and runs the same race again and again. She's a big strong filly. A half-hour after we put her in the stall tonight she'll have eaten eight quarts of grain. She eats like a colt, she trains like a colt, and she runs against fillies."

After breaking slowly under Rajiv Maragh, Rite Moment stalked the pace from the inside as Your Flame in Me set fractions of 22.58 seconds and 45.69 while being chased by Beau Dare. Turning for home, Maragh moved Rite Moment off the rail and forced Beau Dare to move out a path so she could have somewhere to run. Rite Moment then caught Your Flame in Me and went by her. Rite Moment, a daughter of Vicar, ran six furlongs in 1:09.86 and returned $7.30.

o Apprentice rider Sebastian Morales rode four winners on the card and now has 13 winners since moving his tack here from Tampa Bay on March 5.