01/16/2008 1:00AM

Wet track suits Rite Moment in sprint


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Gary Contessa isn't sure if he bought a really good filly in Rite Moment or just one who really likes a wet track. He may not learn any more come Friday if the forecast is correct.

Rite Moment will attempt to climb the condition ladder in a second-level allowance heat over six furlongs that serves as Aqueduct's featured event Friday. The weather forecast calls for rain Thursday night into Friday.

On New Year's Day, over a sloppy inner track, Rite Moment received a perfect stalking trip under Jermaine Bridgmohan as stablemate Brown Eyed Belle set the pace while being chased by Are We Dreamin. Rite Moment raced in third position while three wide before making her move around the turn and pulling away under slight encouragement from Bridgmohan. Rite Moment carried only 113 pounds that day. She now carries 123 as Bridgmohan is no longer an apprentice.

"She really freaked the other day," said Contessa, who bought the horse from Chicago-based trainer Frank Springer on behalf of his owner Steve Sigler's Winning Move Stable. "Was it the mud or is that what I got?"

When informed that it could be an off track on Friday, Contessa perked up and said: "I would like nothing better than to not have to figure out if it was the mud."

There looks to be ample speed in this heat, with Mutakaway, Zippy Missy, and Margies Smile in the field.

A rapid pace could help Littletown Bridge, who comes off a narrow loss to Croesus in this same condition two weeks ago.

Shuffling Maddnes back in Aqueduct

Encouraged by his horse's last start and the prospect of a short field, trainer Del Carroll is planning to run his 5-year-old New York-bred Shuffling Maddnes against open company in Saturday's $75,000 Aqueduct Handicap. Last year, Shuffling Maddnes finished fourth in the Aqueduct.

Shuffling Maddnes, a son of Real Quiet, is coming off a second-place finish to Naughty New Yorker in the Alex M. Robb Handicap for New York-breds on Dec. 30. Prior to that, he finished a disappointing fifth in the Mellow Roll Stakes, an overnight event restricted to statebreds.

"Chuckie [Lopez] had to take him to the outside of the track to really get him in gear," Carroll said of the Robb. "I was glad to see him rebound off that little overnight stakes, which was a little disappointing.''

Despite being a closer, Shuffling Maddnes has enjoyed success over the speed-favoring inner track, with 3 victories and 2 seconds from 10 starts.

"It almost doesn't figure, a deep closer like him on what is traditionally a speed-favoring track, and he's a big horse, too, you wouldn't think he'd fit on those tight turns," Carroll said. "But he does seem to fit the course for some reason."

On Wednesday, Shuffling Maddnes blew out three furlongs in 36.22 seconds, after which Carroll said, "He's as good as he can be."

Stewart Elliott will ride Shuffling Maddnes. Others expected for the Aqueduct are Evening Attire, Angliana, Pink Viper, and possibly Mayan King.

NYRA pleased with simulcast figures

New York Racing Association officials expressed satisfaction with the initial results from its dark-day simulcasting experiment at Aqueduct.

On Monday, a crowd of 357 wagered $137,379. An additional $53,166 was wagered via NYRA Rewards telebet or Internet.

On Tuesday, only 228 fans attended the dark-day simulcasts, wagering $46,863. An additional $18,487 was wagered through NYRA Rewards telebet or Internet.

Hal Handel, NYRA's executive vice president and COO, said those numbers more than justify opening the plant.

"The plant already is open, the plant already is heated, the plant already has security," Handel said. "There's very little in variable costs. We actually generate some purse money, generate a little bit of revenue. The first day exceeded what we hoped for, though there was a blip in the Santa Anita pool because there was a minus pool on [one] race."

Handel said he expected the handle on Tuesday - when Gulfstream and Santa Anita are dark - to be about $35,000.

"An unexpected thing was the telebet figures compared to last year on both days increased," Handel said.

While most of Aqueduct's dark-day simulcasts take place on Mondays and Tuesdays, next week they will occur on Tuesday and Wednesday as the track will be open for live racing Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

* Maryland-based trainer King Leatherbury won Wednesday's fourth race when La Mure was put to first by the stewards who disqualified Reyana's Jet for interference in the stretch.

NYRA records that only go back to 1991 don't show Leatherbury with a New York victory in the last 17 years. His last stakes win in New York came in the 1987 Hempstead Handicap with Catatonic.

Leatherbury ranks third all-time, with 6,229 career victories.