12/27/2001 12:00AM

Schosberg cold as ice


JAMAICA, N.Y. - In a word, "brutal."

That's how trainer Richard Schosberg describes the last three months for his stable. After losing with both of his starters on Thursday, Schosberg enters the last weekend of the year on an 0-for-43 skid in New York, which he believes is the worst slump of his 13-year training career.

Schosberg's last winner in New York came on Sept. 26 when Bonus Pay Day won a $35,000 claiming race at Belmont. Although Schosberg won two races at The Meadowlands, his frustration is mounting.

"This has been pretty brutal, hard to handle," said Schosberg, who is 4 for 82 in New York since July 25. Overall, Schosberg has won just 29 races in 2001 after winning 63 in 2000.

Although Schosberg's stable is not as strong as it has been in years past, a slump like this is hard to fathom.

"A lot of the horses we've been running have been getting in tough spots and horses that are in good spots, some of them haven't had great trips," said Schosberg, who turned 40 on Dec. 19. "A lot of it is luck, a little bit maybe is just that our horses don't move their feet as fast as the other competitors."

Schosberg, who had no runners at Aqueduct on Friday, has two longshot chances to end his streak in Saturday's $100,000 Gallant Fox Handicap. Le Beaucet is only

3 for 32, but did run well enough to finish second to Coyote Lakes in this race last year. This year's Gallant Fox field, which includes Coyote Lakes, is infinitely tougher than last year.

"Coyote Lakes had our number last year, he beat us twice," Schosberg said, referring to Le Beaucet. "There was no real excuse on our horse's part, I think we had the lead in deep stretch. He's just a real stayer; that's his thing. This race is much tougher this year than last year. I don't know what his odds were last year, but they'll be double that this year."

Schosberg also sends out Esperence, who was previously trained by Michael Stidham. Esperence, a son of Wild Again, has done his best running on turf, but also should appreciate the 13 furlongs of the Gallant Fox.

Though frustrated, Schosberg said he plans no changes in how he operates.

"You got to deal with it," Schosberg said. "Hopefully, you can ride it out and not lose all our clients on the way. Just try and come out here and not change too much because what we're doing now is what we did when we won 63 [races] last year. Try not to panic."

Affirmed Success, the star of Schosberg's stable, is ready to run. Schosberg hopes to find a spot for him leading up to the General George Handicap at Laurel Park on Feb. 18.

Two threats await Aqueduct 'Cap

Tempest Fugit and Ground Storm, who figured to be contenders in Saturday's Gallant Fox, were held out of the entry box and instead will be pointed to the $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 19.

Tempest Fugit comes off a demonstrative two-length victory in a third-level allowance race over the main track on Nov. 30. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108 for that race. Trainer Carlos Martin said while Tempest Fugit could handle the 1 5/8 miles of the Gallant Fox, he feared that the race could knock the horse out for a while. The Aqueduct Handicap is run at 1 1/16 miles.

Ground Storm, trained by Bill Mott, comes off a solid score in a classified allowance race in which he earned a 106 Beyer on Dec. 16. The Gallant Fox was a little too close back for him. Ground Storm breezed a half-mile in 49.13 seconds over Belmont's training track on Thursday.

The Aqueduct Handicap figures to feature Arkansas Derby winner Balto Star and Evening Attire, winner of the Discovery Handicap and Queens County Handicap.

On Thursday, Evening Attire drilled four furlongs in 47.12 seconds, the fastest of 46 workouts at the distance over the training track.

* Aqueduct will be open for racing on Tuesday, New Year's Day. All patrons will receive a 2002 NYRA calendar with paid admission. Entries for that card will be taken on Saturday. There will be no racing Wednesday, although Aqueduct will be open for dark-day simulcasting. Other dates Aqueduct will be open for dark-day simulcasting are Jan. 7, 14, 23, and 28, Feb. 4, 11, 20, and 25, and March 4 and 11.