11/06/2006 12:00AM

Tight finishes in Stallion Stakes

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Gutty performances and close finishes were the order of the day in Sunday's New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct as the combined margin of victory in the four races was 1 3/4 lengths.

The New York Stallion Stakes are restricted to progeny of New York-based stallions, thus are not open to all New York-breds.

In the $100,000 Fifth Avenue for 2-year-olds, Baxter, under Kent Desormeaux ran down stablemate Landofopportunity to win by a neck at the wire. Both horses are trained by John Hertler. It was 1 3/4 lengths back to pacesetting Son of Sabato in third.

Baxter, the 7-5 favorite, got shuffled back to last, split horses to gain contention coming to the quarter pole, then kept coming with a determined run to get up in the final strides. Baxter, a son of American Chance owned by Margaret Carrothers and Patricia Parker, covered the six furlongs in 1:10.87 and returned $4.90.

In the $100,000 Great White Way for 2-year-old fillies, Laurentide Ice rallied from last under Cornelio Velasquez and outfinished 9-5 favorite Twistaway to win by a half-length. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to All Fired Up in third.

Laurentide Ice, who had finished second in the Joseph A. Gimma and third in the Maid of the Mist - both restricted to New York-breds - was last and saving ground down the backside. Velasquez moved her off the rail approaching the quarter pole and took her to the center of the track for the stretch drive. She got past Twistaway, who had taken over from Crosstown Traffic and All Fired Up inside the eighth pole.

Laurentide Ice, a daughter of Intidab trained by Mark Hennig and owned by Camelia Casby, covered the six furlongs in 1:11.93 and returned $6.90 as the second choice.

In the $75,000 Perfect Arc for fillies and mares on turf, Artistic Express squeezed through a narrow opening on the rail under Velasquez to nip a game Baby Gray by a neck. It was a half-length back to Higher Incentive in third.

Baby Gray, under Eddie Martin Jr., had taken a two-length lead after running six furlongs in 1:12.53. When it looked like she would be swallowed up in the stretch, Baby Gray fought gamely to the wire but just couldn't hold off Artistic Express.

Artistic Express, a daughter of Western Expression owned by Chester and Mary Broman and trained by Ramon Hernandez, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.80 over good turf and returned $7.40 as the second choice.

The favored entry of Fairytale Story and Classic Expression finished fifth and eighth, respectively.

In the $75,000 Cormorant for colts and geldings on turf, Red Zipper took over from the pacesetting Retribution midway around the far turn then held off the late-running Pa Pa Da to win by three-quarters of a length. Retribution, the 2-1 favorite, finished fourth.

Red Zipper, a son of City Zip owned by Jeffrey Tucker and owned by John Morrison, covered the 1 1/16 miles under Eibar Coa in 1:43.94 and returned $22.60 to win.