01/07/2005 1:00AM

Tales of Glory ready for big step up


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The top four finishers from the Queens County Handicap have left town for other races or a vacation. The winner of the Gallant Fox Handicap has left the country. Needless to say there is a void in New York's handicap division this winter.

It's a void Tales of Glory seems anxious and able to fill. Tales of Glory won his second straight allowance race over the inner track on Thursday, going gate to wire in the slop to win by 1 3/4 lengths. He ran a mile and 70 yards in 1:40.80 and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 103. On Dec. 3, Tales of Glory also won a mile and 70-yard allowance race over the inner track.

Those two victories will most likely earn Tales of Glory a shot in the $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap here on Jan. 22. The Grade 3 Aqueduct, run at 1 1/16 miles, is the only graded event remaining to be run during the inner track meet.

"After a race like yesterday, you'd have to give it a shot," Seth Benzel, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, said Friday. "He's 2 for 2 over the inner track, and he's building up some confidence. If you're going to take a shot at some of the handicap horses now would be the time to do it."

Tales of Glory, a son of Honour and Glory, showed promise winning 2 of his first 3 starts at age 2. He didn't win again until taking a $75,000 claiming race on July 11 at Belmont. A month later, Tales of Glory won a second-level allowance race, and with the exception of getting dueled into defeat in the Grade 3 Pegasus at The Meadowlands, he has run well since.

"He's matured into his style," Benzel said. "Initially, he was a front-runner who was on the rank side. He was hard to settle. Although he has the same style, he's relaxed and he enjoys being out there. He gets emboldened when he doesn't have a lot of horses around him."

The Pletcher barn may have another horse to consider for the Aqueduct. On Friday, Coast Line won his fourth consecutive race, taking a third-level allowance race by four lengths. Like Tales of Glory, Coast Line is now 2 for 2 over the inner track. The only problem is that Coast Line has the same front-running style as Tales of Glory.

As of Friday - the day before nominations were scheduled to close - there were only five horses nominated to the Aqueduct.

Colita, another Pletcher trainee, who finished second in the Gallant Fox and third in the Queens County, is at Eisaman Equine in Ocala, Fla., where he will be freshened before returning in the spring, owner Barry Irwin said.

Successfully Sweet out till spring

Successfully Sweet, winner of the East View Stakes for New York-breds, came out of that race with a chip in her knee and will be sidelined until the spring, trainer Gary Contessa said.

Successfully Sweet, a daughter of Successful Appeal, won her third consecutive race when she took the East View by a neck on Dec. 5 over the inner track. While disappointed with the injury, Contessa said the timing could have been worse.

"There isn't a stakes for New York breds until April," Contessa said. "Now is a great time to take a chip out of a New York-bred."

Count Fleet overflow on Sunday

To accommodate horses who were left out of Saturday's $75,000 Count Fleet Stakes, the racing office carded a $44,000 entry-level allowance race on Sunday for 3-year-olds at one mile. Four of the horses entered in the Count Fleet are back in on Sunday.

Benjamin Baby, who drew post 10 in the Count Fleet, is expected to scratch and run in the allowance race, assistant trainer Artie Magnuson said. Benjamin Baby comes off a second-place finish in the City Zip Stakes at six furlongs.

Magnuson said he and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin "have been dying to try to stretch him out," but didn't want to try doing it from post 10 in the Count Fleet. Before his second-place finish in the City Zip, Benjamin Baby won a seven-furlong maiden race by two lengths.

"He ran seven-eighths pretty well. The way the track is playing lately might help us get the distance, too," Magnuson said.

Byanosejoe and Diamond Wildcat are the main threats. Byanosejoe won a six-furlong maiden race by three-quarters of a length, overcoming a bumping incident at the top of the stretch. Diamond Wildcat showed good speed winning a Dec. 18 maiden race for trainer Ben Perkins Jr. Both horses are trying two turns for the first time.

Stewards explain no-call

Many fans were exasperated when the stewards did not disqualify New Age from first place in Friday's sixth race for interfering with Storm Uprising entering the first turn. The stewards said there were two reasons for their call.

First, the stewards placed the blame on Hell Roaring Creek, who came in on New Age, who in turn came in on Storm Uprising, who was basically eliminated from the race. Secondly, the stewards felt it would have been unfair to penalize New Age, who was a much the best, 4 1/2-length winner.

In a rule passed last year, the stewards do not have to disqualify a horse if they feel there are "mitigating factors, such as whether the impeded horse was partly at fault or the [interference] was wholly caused by the fault of some other horse or jockey."

Head-on replays made it appear that New Age tried to savage Storm Uprising. According to New Age's rider, Richard Migliore, his mount threw his head when the jockey reached to grab him. New Age and Storm Uprising bumped and New Age's body was turned, as was his head, making it look even more like he was savaging Storm Uprising.

Storm Uprising, ridden by Pedro Cotto Jr., rallied to fifth.

* Buoyed by longshot winners General Thomas ($67.50) and Sir Tyler T ($59), Friday's pick four returned a whopping $71,464. The winning sequence of 2-10-5-8 also included New Age ($10.20) and Storm Boot Gold ($13).