12/09/2004 12:00AM

Things worth noting at Aqueduct fall meet


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - So what were some of the big stories on Aqueduct's main track this fall?

Oct. 27 - Zakocity grabbed the lead from Stolen Time at the break of the Discovery Handicap, and those two went once around the track in that order after laying down slow fractions. It would be a glimpse of things to come: seven of the 10 graded stakes on the main track were won in wire-to-wire fashion.

Oct. 30 - Host, next-to-last until midstretch, ran his last three-eighths in under 35 seconds and emerged from the fog to win the Knickerbocker going away. He proved his new-found stretch kick was no fluke by winning last Saturday's Tropical Turf at Calder.

Bending Strings is at her best at seven furlongs when able to settle off a contested pace, and that was the setup she got for her blowout score in the First Flight.

Oct. 31 - Mass Media crop-dusted older sprinters in the Sport Page Handicap after seven furlongs in 1:21.10. That time was good for a Beyer Speed Figure of 115, a figure confirmed when runner-up Lion Tamer returned to win the Cigar Mile. Mass Media is a 3-year-old trained by Bobby Frankel, and his development at this stage is remarkably similar to his older stablemate Ghostzapper.

Nov. 2 - The Todd Pletcher-trained Summer Raven got "hustled" into the Tempted by the racing office, and wired the one-mile stakes for 2-year-old fillies in 1:36.09 as the second-longest shot on the tote board. Two races later, Rockport Harbor wired the Nashua in a slower 1:36.67, but the internal fractions add another dimension to a mere comparison of final times: Summer Raven opened with fractions of 23.37 and 46.30 seconds; Rockport Harbor went 22.88 and 45.50, and still was able to widen his lead over Defer and Better Than Bonds, each of whom came back to win stakes.

Nov. 6 - Deputy Indy is a 2-year-old colt by A.P. Indy and a full brother to the long-winded mare Fircroft, who ran second in the Coaching Club American Oaks as a 3-year-old. Unveiled in a seven-furlong sprint by Stanley Hough, Deputy Indy collared next-out winner Benjamin Baby to win going away in 1:23; the winner of the first division less than an hour earlier required 1:24.68.

Nov. 10 - If you come across any dirt runners from this date who were not one-two-three at the first call, it may pay to be lenient and excuse an off race because every winner occupied one of those forward positions on this speed-favoring track.

Nov. 12 - The track went from good to muddy to sloppy and was sealed throughout. As is often the case on sealed tracks, horses equipped with mud caulks enjoyed an edge. A total of 11 horses wore caulks, and four won to produce a total return of $33.30 on $2 flat bets amounting to $22. It happens regularly.

Nov. 13 - A stiff headwind on the backstretch helped make this the slowest day of the meet in terms of pace and final times in relation to par.

Nov. 18, 20 - Speed-favoring tracks. On each day, seven of eight dirt winners led or raced up close throughout. Any horse able to gain in position or lengths deserves extra credit. One more name to file away: Carson's Bridge, a 2-year-old first-time starter who shrugged off early pressure and widened at every call to earn a 93 Beyer.

Nov. 21 - If you can figure out who will set the pace in a 2-year-old sprint stakes, go to the window. The procedure worked here with Megascape, who got clear early and held off odds-on Alfonsina for a mild upset of the Valley Stream at 9-2. Coming up with pacesetter Magoo's Magic in the Huntington a week earlier would have gotten you $23.40 for a deuce.

Nov. 25 - If you like everything about a horse except for a dull race on this day, throw out the slop race, because the card was scrapped after two races due to an uneven track.

Nov. 26 - Drying out a day later. Three-year-olds ran one-two in the Top Flight Handicap as Daydreaming nosed out Bending Strings, and the field finished in parimutuel order. Diligent Gambler ran his usual good race, and the mid-level claimer won for the ninth time in 14 starts this year.

Nov. 27 - The fastest surface of the meet in relation to par. Sis City cemented her "claim of the year" status, wiring the Demoiselle, a race that featured remarkably little position change among the seven fillies from start to finish. In the Remsen, Rockport Harbor outbroke Galloping Grocer, hugged the rail, and prevailed after an epic stretch drive, despite having his heels clipped early in the race.

If Pico Central loses the Eclipse for top sprinter, it will be because of his inside draw in the Cigar Mile and the fact that he had to run a second quarter in 21.82 to maintain the lead over Purge and Badge of Silver approaching the turn. Lion Tamer received a dream setup and swept four wide from last for a 12-1 upset.