04/25/2003 11:00PM

Saint Verre wins off-the-turf Fort Marcy

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Saint Verre motored through the muck to win Saturday's $117,500 Fort Marcy Handicap at Aqueduct by 8 1/2 lengths over Windsor Castle.

The Fort Marcy, originally scheduled for the turf at 1 1/16 miles, was moved to the sloppy main track at a mile because of rain. Nine horses were scratched, leaving a field of eight.

The Fort Marcy's Grade 3 status was removed because of the surface switch and will be reviewed by the Graded Stakes Committee. The last time the Fort Marcy was run on the main track was in 1998, when Subordination won.

Under Jose Espinoza, Saint Verre controlled the pace through fractions of 23.34 seconds, 46.17, and 1:09.96. The final time was 1:33.77.

Allen Jerkens trains Saint Verre ($14.80) for Joe Allen.

Jerkens also ran Puzzlement, the second choice, who finished fourth.

Classic Endeavor, the 2-1 favorite, chased the early pace, faded in the stretch, and finished last. Judge's Case was third, a length behind Windsor Castle.

Off-the-turf races have proven to be good spots for Saint Verre, who won the Cliff Hanger at The Meadowlands on Oct. 11 after it was switched to the main track. That was the 5-year-old's last victory until Saturday.

Bravo second in comeback race

Jockey Joe Bravo, riding in his first race in 11 months in Saturday's fourth race, finished second aboard Duke's Crossing. It was Bravo's only mount on the card.

Last year, Bravo, an eight-time riding champion at Monmouth Park, broke his wrist in a spill on May 30. When he was getting ready for a return to the saddle last fall, Bravo's left leg, which had been broken in a spill in July 2001, began causing him discomfort.

* Shake You Down came within .23 seconds of breaking Kelly Kip's six-furlong track record in the fifth race. Shake You Down's winning time in the allowance race was 1:07.77. In his previous start, Shake You Down earned a 118 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest this yearin the country in races up to a mile, by winning an Aqueduct allowance race, also run in the slop, on April 11.