02/21/2009 1:00AM

Weathered delivers as expected in Rare Treat


OZONE PARK, N.Y. Neither distance, nor delay, nor lack of pace could stay Weathered from her appointed visit with the Aqueduct winner s circle in Saturday s $70,695 Rare Treat Stakes at Aqueduct.

In a race where none of the six combatants had won at 1 1/8 miles, Weathered ($2.90) took the initiative, clearing the field around the clubhouse turn then galloping around the track under Mike Luzzi en route to a 7 1/4-length victory. Aristo, who vied for the early lead for the opening quarter before backing off, finished second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Bourbon Maid. Point Me to It, Rap Tale, and Vladimira completed the order of finish.

The start of the Rare Treat was delayed nine minutes. First, Rap Tale needed to return to the paddock for a shoe repair. Then Vladimira acted up in the gate, necessitating a bridle adjustment.

When the gates opened, Aristo, under Sheldon Russell, and Weathered went out for the lead and dueled through an opening quarter in 23.83 seconds. Nearing the backstretch, Aristo backed off and Weathered raced uncontested through a second quarter in 24.22 seconds. From there Weathered widened her lead at every call and came home an easy winner.

Weathered, a 4-year-old New York-bred daughter of Key Contender, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.84.

She broke in my hands and I just had to get her settled down a little bit around the first turn, said, Luzzi, who had just returned from a brief south Florida vacation. Then she straightened out down the backside and she softened up nice.

Karl Grusmark, who trains Weathered for Eddie Shapoff s Chevalier Stable, said the race went pretty much as he thought.

We thought she d be in front or at least lay right off the pace, he said. The quarter and the half went in our favor and we took advantage of it. Michael did a great job with her.

Grusmark said Weathered, who is now 8 for 14 lifetime, would be pointed to the Grade 3, $100,000 Next Move Stakes over the inner track on March 28.