02/05/2008 1:00AM

Who's most likely to rebound?


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Among the eight New York-bred 3-year-olds in Thursday's $65,000 Appealing Guy Stakes at Aqueduct, it's a simple matter to pick out the four that have run the fastest: In their next-to-last starts, Piquante Cat, The Truffle Man, That'srightofficer, and Russian Sage all recorded Beyer Speed Figures in the low 80s.

The devil is in the details of their subsequent starts, where a variety of unfavorable circumstances contributed to regressions.

In the Great White Way division of the New York Stallion Stakes, Piquante Cat was beaten just a half-length by Spanky Fischbein, but was then a non-threatening fifth against open company in the Capote Stakes. A winner on turf and dirt, the versatile Piquante Cat returns off an eight-week freshening.

The Truffle Man won maiden and first-level allowance sprints with the addition of Lasix in November for trainer Leah Gyarmati. He looks to rebound after being bumped at the start and finishing far back on a sloppy track against open sprinters.

That'srightofficer won his debut impressively in a big field Dec. 8 for Rick Schosberg, and was installed as the even-money favorite in a first-level allowance on the strength of that race. He stumbled and was bumped at the start, however, and never got close to Be Bullish and Another Foose, who both entered back in the Appealing Guy.

Russian Sage blossomed on turf last fall for Tim Ritvo. After winning a maiden sprint on Belmont's inner turf course, he stretched out to a mile at Aqueduct and upset open allowance rivals at 18-1. He stumbled badly at the start of the Damon Runyon in his next and final start at 2, and was eased on the far turn.

"We're throwing that race out because of the way he stumbled," said Ritvo. "He grabbed a quarter."

The six-furlong Appealing Guy will be the first start in two months for Russian Sage, and his first dirt sprint since a pair of five-furlong dashes at Belmont Park last spring.

"His earlier races on dirt were okay, and he's been training really good on dirt lately," said Ritvo, referring to three recent workouts, all ranked second-fastest of the morning.

Be Bullish comes off a career-best effort to outduel Another Foose in a first-level allowance. That effort looked even better when Another Foose returned to demolish a similar group 17 days later.

The field is completed by Raynicks Cat, a sharp maiden winner with blinkers on, and Peperoni, who has been trounced by several of these.