03/17/2010 11:00PM

Toulouse Lautrec at his peak


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Toulouse Lautrec sports some impressive company lines on his past performance resume. The 4-year-old colt faces another solid crew Friday in a $51,000 fourth-level allowance/$100,000 claimer at Aqueduct.

The six-furlong race attracted a field of six, with three carrying the claiming price, including Mt. Glittermore, who was claimed for $75,000 last time out by trainer Steve Asmussen.

Toulouse Lautrec was in deep from Day 1. He ran second to Quality Road in his debut, which came in November 2008 at Aqueduct. Last summer, he chased the very tough sprinter Pashito the Che in a Penn National stakes.

In his lone race this year, his debut for trainer Bruce Levine, Toulouse Lautrec scored A 4 1/2-length win in a second-level allowance here in January. Elusive Gift and Vicious Rapids, the second and third finishers, both came back to win their next start.

"He ran really good there," said Levine, who took over the training from Steve Klesaris. "He trained well and he ran to his works."

Toulouse Lautrec earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 96, prompting Levine to give the colt some time off following that effort.

"I backed off him a little bit," Levine said. "I thought he ran a big race."

This race caught Levine somewhat by surprise.

"I didn't think this race would go," Levine said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I had no place to run the horse, and I wanted to get another race into him."

On paper, this looks like a double class-jump for Toulouse Lautrec. In Levine's opinion, there is not much difference between this spot and a third-level $75,000 optional claimer.

"Most of these horses, if there was a three-other-than, would be in there for the $75,000," Levine said.

That was the level most recently for Mt. Glittermore, who ran second at 1-2 behind New Jersey-bred millionaire Joey P. last month. The 5-year-old Mt. Glittermore changed barns, from Gary Contessa, Aqueduct's leading trainer, to Asmussen.

Even though he lost Mt. Glittermore on the claim, Contessa is still in the race with Starforaday, up from Florida following a third-place finish in a starter allowance at Gulfstream Park.

Starforaday was a rallying third in his last Big A appearance, the Gravesend Stakes on the day after Christmas.