Updated on 09/16/2011 6:40AM

Tempest Fugit gets some pampering

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - Trainer Carlos Martin said he is viewing Saturday's $100,000-added Aqueduct Handicap as a second chance for Tempest Fugit, a 5-year-old gelding he trains, to prove he can hold his own in stakes company.

* began 2001 as a horse with stakes potential, but by the time summer rolled around he couldn't win a $35,000 claimer. Tempest Fugit, however, ended the season on a positive note by winning back-to-back starts in November, including a third-level allowance race in which he earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 108.

In hindsight, Martin said running Tempest Fugit, who he trains for Carl Lizza's Flying Zee Stables, in last year's Grade 1 Donn at Gulfstream Park was a mistake. Tempest Fugit, who was trained by Bill Mott while he was in Florida, was in excellent form when he entered the Donn with a pair of impressive allowance wins at Aqueduct and a second in a Laurel Park stakes. But the gelding was overmatched in the Donn and finished sixth, beaten nearly 39 lengths by the winner, Captain Steve.

After two more losses, in an optional claimer and an allowance race, Tempest Fugit was reunited with Martin. The gelding was sidelined for much of the summer with hind-end problems, and when he returned in August, he lost four consecutive races against claimers. Tempest Fugit salvaged the year by winning his last two starts.

Martin said following Tempest Fugit's latest win, on Nov. 30, he toyed with the idea of running him back in the 1 5/8-mile Gallant Fox on Dec. 29, but decided the prudent thing to do was to wait for the 1 1/16-mile Aqueduct.

"I thought it was a bad time to experiment," Martin said. "I saw he got a 108 Beyer and re-thought the whole thing and decided he needed more time to recoup after that huge of a race.

"Last year we got carried away by going to the Donn," Martin added. "He looks like he's getting good again and we want to manage him a little better this time. He's 5 now and for some horses that's their best year."

Tempest Fugit worked sharply over Belmont Park's training track on Monday. The gelding's half-mile move was timed in 47.19 seconds, handily, the fastest of 74 works at the distance.

Aaron Gryder, a two-time winner of the Aqueduct Handicap, has the mount on Tempest Fugit.

Tempest Fugit, who was assigned 111 pounds, meets a tough group in the Grade 3 Aqueduct, including graded winners, Balto Star (118) and Evening Attire (116). Others pointing to the Aqueduct are Ground Storm (115); Private Ryan (114); Sweet Ricky (112); My Request (112); and Unbridled Time (112).

Top Official appears best in feature

Four survivors of the grueling Gallant Fox - Le Beaucet, Top Official, Franbulo, and Banner Headline - have been entered in Friday's eighth race. Joining them in the $54,000 classified allowance for older males are Pickupspeed and End of the Road. The race will be run at 1 3/16 miles.

Top Official, the horse with the best Gallant Fox finish in this field, is the type of horse any trainer would love to have in his stable. Trainer Leah Gyarmati and owner Jim Bissett, whose daughter, Diane Nelson, is Top Official's regular rider, can almost always count on the 7-year-old gelding to bring home a check. During the stretch run of the Gallant Fox, Top Official looked like a winner, but had to settle for third when he was outfinished by the winner, Coyote Lakes, and the runner-up, Pleasant Divorce.

Top Official, who drew post 2, looks like the controlling speed and should be able hold off any late charges from this field.

* There appears to be a dearth of 3-year-old sprinters in New York stakes this winter. Only four fillies ran in the $75,000-added Ruthless Stakes on Jan. 6. Monday's $75,000-added Fred "Cappy" Capossela, a six-furlong race for colts and geldings, is also coming up light.

Spin Zone, War Native, and Pharaoh's Cat are considered by the racing office as probable starters for the Capossela. My Cousin Matt and President's Butler are listed as possible to start.

* Julian Pimentel withdrew his appeal for a careless riding suspension, dating back to last May, and began serving a 10-day suspension on Monday.

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