01/17/2004 1:00AM

Seattle Fitz toughest in Big A 'Cap

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Seattle Fitz (right) beats Evening Attire by a nose, with Rogue Agent third.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Seattle Fitz gamely fought off challenges from Rogue Agent on the rail and Evening Attire to his outside to win Saturday's $110,100 .

Seattle Fitz was a nose winner over Evening Attire in the Grade 3 Aqueduct. Rogue Agent, the pacesetter, finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Evening Attire. Lord ofthe Thunder, Boston Park, Peekskill, Abreeze, and Classic Endeavor completed the order of finish in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Under Aaron Gryder, Seattle Fitz raced in second down the backstretch behind Rogue Agent, who carved out lively fractions of 22.93 seconds, 46.19, and 1:10.25. With a furlong remaining, Seattle Fitz had a narrow lead over Rogue Agent. Evening Attire, who was 5 1/2 lengths off the lead coming into the stretch, was gobbling up ground with every stride.

Seattle Fitz ($7.40) covered the distance in 1:42.13 over a fast track.

Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode the 4-5 favorite, Evening Attire, said his mount was slow to get motivated. Evening Attire, who won the Aqueduct two years ago, carried 122 pounds as the highweight, eight pounds more than Seattle Fitz.

"He had a lot of weight and it took him a while to hit his stride," Bridgmohan said.

Kiaran McLaughlin trains Seattle Fitz, a 5-year-old son of Fitzcarraldo, for West Point Stable, a syndicate founded and managed by Terry Finley. The Aqueduct Handicap victory was McLaughlin's first stakes win for West Point, whom he began training for last year.

"It was great to win a stakes for these owners," McLaughlin said. "I have a lot of respect for Evening Attire, so I was worried. Aaron rode a great race."

Gryder picked up the mount because McLaughlin's go-to rider, Richard Migliore, was riding in Florida on Saturday.

"He broke hard and put himself in the race," Gryder said. "Kiaran and I talked earlier, and coming out of the turn we wanted to put a gap between us and Evening Attire."

McLaughlin had no immediate plans for Seattle Fitz, who won his first stakes in the Aqueduct Handicap.

Affectionately: Austin's Mom takes it

Austin's Mom came with a powerful late run and spurted away to win the $109,600 by 5 1/2 lengths over Golden Damsel, the pacesetter. Consort Music, the longest price on the tote board at

57-1, finished a length behind the runner-up in third in the Grade 3 for fillies and mares.

Apprentice Pablo Fragoso, a finalist in the 2003 Eclipse Award voting, rode Austin's Mom for the first stakes win of his career.

"She is a nice filly to ride," Fragoso said. "She really kicked in through the stretch."

Austin's Mom ($25) covered the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Affectionately in 1:44.02. The winner came from the back of the pack with a wide move to gain the lead with a furlong remaining.

Message Red, the 2-1 favorite, finished sixth in the eight-horse field.

"The outside post really hurt us today," said Javier Castellano, Message Red's rider. "She is a much better filly when she is closer to the pace."

Allen Iwinski trains Austin's Mom, a 4-year-old daughter of Sefapiano, for Leonard Friedman, Jan Nilsen, and Brom Keifetz.

Iwinski's assistant, Brad Wallace, saddled Austin's Mom. Wallace said Iwinski likes to work his horses slowly, so they finish strong in their races.

"But I was even surprised by how much she won by," Wallace said. "She obviously likes the inner track."

Austin's Mom was making her first start on the inner track after winning back-to-back allowance starts at Delaware Park in the fall.