11/16/2001 12:00AM

Sassy Hound may ship for Fall Highweight


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Last month, trainer Ben Feliciano Jr. had the option of shipping his talented sprinter Sassy Hound to New York for the Sport Page Handicap or staying home in Maryland to run in the Lite the Fuse.

He chose to stay in Maryland. It proved to be a mistake when, a few jumps out of the gate, Sassy Hound stumbled, spotting Disco Rico several lengths, and Sassy Hound ended up finishing third.

Faced with a similar decision this week, Feliciano said he is probably going to ship Sassy Hound to New York for Thursday's Grade 2 $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct rather than wait for a Laurel stakes race in December.

"``I was definitely going to try and hit New York during the winter, but I'm definitely thinking about going this time for that race," Feliciano said from his Laurel Park base.

Feliciano was further persuaded to come to New York after watching Sassy Hound breeze four furlongs in 48.40 seconds Friday morning at Laurel Park. It was the fourth fastest of 23 works of the morning at the distance and Feliciano actually caught him a bit faster.

"He couldn't have breezed any better," Feliciano said. "I did breeze him today for that race."

Before his loss in the Lite the Fuse, Sassy Hound had won three consecutive races, including an allowance race at Saratoga where he covered six furlongs in 1:08.88.

For his career, Sassy Hound has a record of 11-2-3 from 20 starts and is 9 for 13 at six furlongs, the distance of the Fall Highweight.

Sassy Hound was assigned 130 pounds for the Fall Highweight, one pound less than Yonaguska, who at 131 figures to be the starting highweight. Delaware Township was assigned topweight of 140 pounds, but he was scheduled to end his career in Saturday's Grade 1 De Francis Dash at Laurel Park.

Others expected to run in the Fall Highweight are Silky Sweep (130), Istintaj (129), Here's Zealous (127), Night Caller (124), Port Herman (122), and Nunzio (121). Possible starters include Governor's Pride (130), In C.C.'s Honor (130), Grangeville (128), Impeachthepro (126), and Run Kush Run (124).

Istintaj, who won a pair of graded sprint stakes at Gulfstream, breezed four furlongs in 49.83 seconds Friday over Belmont's main track.

Volponi will run in Cigar Mile

Volponi, who won the Grade 2 Pegasus Handicap in his last start, will run in Saturday's Grade 1 Cigar Mile rather than ship to Kentucky for the Grade 2 Clark Handicap, trainer Phil Johnson said Friday.

Johnson said he simply preferred to stay home rather than ship his horse out of town. Although Johnson has previously said that Volponi has run better around two turns, he was pleased with Volponi's victory in a one-turn mile allowance race at Belmont on Oct. 6.

"He ran a decent race going a mile at Belmont this fall and in the spring he ran well over this surface in his first start of the year," said Johnson, referring to a runner-up performance in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race at Aqueduct in April. "The surface shouldn't be a problem."

Johnson is under the impression that Shaun Bridgmohan will ride Volponi in the Cigar Mile. But Bridgmohan is also the regular rider of Peeping Tom, whom Bridgmohan worked four furlongs in 48.42 seconds on Friday. Trainer Pat Reynolds also believes he has Bridgmohan.

"Any story that he can't ride will be a surprise, but I've been surprised before," Reynolds said. "But the horse is doing good."

Reynolds worked Peeping Tom in company with two other horses and liked the way his gelding worked.

"He sat behind them, caught a little dirt, and blew by them," said Reynolds, who caught Peeping Tom galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.60. "Excellent work. He did it with some enthusiasm."

The Cigar Mile did lose a couple of potential starters as Figlio Mio, Scorpion, and Orientate were all removed from consideration for the race for various reasons.

As of Friday, the Cigar field figured to consist of Affirmed Success, Graeme Hall, Illusioned, Left Bank, Peeping Tom, Red Bullet, Ticket to Freedom, Volponi, and Voodoo. Franbulo is a possibility.

Weights for the Cigar Mile were to be assigned on Sunday.

* Miesque's Approval, winner of the Pilgrim Stakes, worked four furlongs in 48.81 seconds Friday over Belmont's training track. He is expected to make his next start in next Saturday's Grade 3 $200,000 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park.