01/04/2002 1:00AM

Where $950 buys you a stakes winner


Eye of the Comet became a stakes winner for owner Cecil Fiske three weeks ago in the $81,575 Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-breds at Aqueduct. The win pushed the 2-year-old Eye of the Comet's earnings to $113,218.

Not too shabby for a horse Fiske bought for $950 as a yearling.

Fiske, a salesman from Farmington, N.Y., is relatively new to the game. In 1999, he bought a 7-year-old mare, Shield Your Eyes, from a trainer at Finger Lakes so he could donate her to a friend's riding academy for the handicapped. Fiske said Shield Your Eyes was underweight and running poorly - she was 1 for 61 - and he didn't want to see her get hurt. Fiske, however, decided to keep Shield Your Eyes and, after a long layoff, raced the mare. She won at Finger Lakes in September 2000 for Fiske, paying $155 for a $2 win bet.

A week later, Fiske took the purse winnings and the money he won betting on Shield Your Eyes and went to the Genesee Valley Mixed Sale at Finger Lakes Race Track, where he bought Eye of the Comet.

Mike Flynn, who recently announced his resignation as executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc, bred Eye of the Comet.

"The horse was a little crooked-legged, but I liked his attitude when he walked into the ring," Fiske said.

Fiske, 54, later sold Shield Your Eyes as a broodmare prospect, but Eye of the Comet, a son of Comet Shine, out of a Dr. Blum mare, Blumsta, kept his small stable going in 2001 with a record of 2-2-2 from eight starts. Besides winning a maiden race and the Damon Runyon, Fiske's gelding finished second in the Aspirant Stakes and third in the Bertram F. Bongard.

"A friend told me, 'You did the right thing by [Shield Your Eyes], so you got lucky,' " Fiske said.

Eye of the Comet, who is trained by Sal Iorio Jr., is currently receiving a break at Adrian Barron's Lone Star Farm in Farmington. Fiske said his gelding would arrive at Aqueduct later in the winter. The long-range goal for Eye of the Comet is the Big Apple Triple, a series of races for New York-bred 3-year-olds run later this year at Belmont Park, Finger Lakes, and Saratoga.

Fiske went back to the Genesee sale last year and bought a yearling colt by Spectacular Bid for $1,900.

"Sal Iorio said, 'You paid twice as much, let's hope he's half as good [as Eye of the Comet],' " Fiske said with a laugh.

New York yearlings in Kentucky sale

Five yearlings foaled in New York are consigned to Keeneland's January horses of all ages sale this week in Kentucky.

The New York-foaled yearlings (Hip No. 908, 934, 1181, 1251, and 1366) will sell on Wednesday and Thursday. They are a daughter of freshman sire Subordination; two colts by freshman sire Tomorrows Cat; a colt by freshman sire Gold Token; and a colt by Incurable Optimist, whose first foals are yearlings this year.

New York-breds abroad

Two New York-breds are doing well for themselves abroad.

King the Fact, a 5-year-old bred by Dr. Jerry Bilinski and Martin Zaretsky, won the Goodluck Handicap at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan two days before Christmas. Breeze In, a 5-year-old bred by William Garbarini's Quarter Keg Stable, Skytop Farm, and Ernie Lee, won a 1 1/8-mile dirt race at Nakayama on Dec. 22.

King the Fact and Breeze In each have earnings equivalent to more than six figures in U.S. currency, and King the Fact has placed in two group stakes in Japan.

King the Fact sold at Keeneland's 1998 September yearling sale for $77,000 and was sold again six months later at Fasig-Tipton Florida's select sale of 2-year-olds in training at Calder, where his current owner, Kazuo Nishiura, bought him for $160,000. By Known Fact-Koluctoo's Robin, by Koluctoo Bay, King the Fact is a half-brother to multiple stakes winner Bird of Pay, and his dam is a full sister to multiple Grade 2 winner Koluctoo's Jill.

Breeze In was consigned to Fasig-Tipton's 1998 Saratoga select yearling sale, where he failed to bring his reserve price with his final live bid of $95,000. A son of Devil's Bag-Screened, by Alydar, Breeze In is a half-brother to three stakes winners, including New York-breds Farmonthefreeway and Scarlet Rage.