11/18/2002 12:00AM

Will Fuse stay lit going long?


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It's fun to go racing with friends, particularly if your horse wins, as partners in the CT Stable discovered at Aqueduct on Sunday.

Their Super Fuse, a speedy son of the rapid Lite the Fuse, came with an explosive run in the upper stretch and danced through the slop to a convincing victory by more than three lengths in the $82,475 Huntington Stakes for 2-year-olds at six furlongs.

Purchased last spring for $38,000 at the Adena Springs Farm sale in Ocala, Fla., Super Fuse has won 4 of 5 starts, earned more than $100,000, enhanced his value considerably, and could take his 14 owners at least part of the glorious way down the trail leading to the Kentucky Derby.

The CT Stable was organized by Chris Thomas Olrick, a popular radio sports show host in Tampa, Fla., and longtime racing fan. To get the first CT Stable venture underway, Olrick, as managing partner, engaged Richard Ciardullo Jr. as trainer and asked him to buy five horses at public auction, each at a price of between $25,000 and $50,000.

Ciardullo, who began his training career in the Tampa Bay area in 1989, is a native New Yorker. He attended Louisiana Tech University, graduated with a degree in animal sciences, and put together a small public stable. He has 21 head in his care now, races primarily at Calder and Gulfstream Park, and is beginning to get a little excited about Super Fuse.

"We loved his race in the Huntington," Ciardullo said. "That's the way he seems most effective. He stalked the leaders and then came on strong through the stretch."

The one race he lost? He stumbled coming out of the gate from an outside post, recovered quickly, but tired on a deep track at Delaware Park. The eventful trip took its toll and he finished fifth.

Super Fuse hasn't disappointed since. Ciardullo was concerned about the foul weather and conditions for the Huntington as a nor'easter lashed New York. He conferred with his blacksmith, they decided on block heels behind, and the muscular Super Fuse went about his job in a sure-footed manner. He passed that test, but the key question remains: Can he stay?

His sire, Lite the Fuse, had speed and class. He earned $1 million in purses, captured such prestigious sprints as the Carter, the Frank De Francis Memorial Dash, and the Tom Fool, and underlined his quality with a strong second to Honour and Glory in the Metropolitan Mile. Those aren't the credentials of a horse who can get the classic distances, but as Hirsch Jacobs was fond of saying: You never know.

Ciardullo is pointing Super Fuse for the opening-day stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 3, the six-furlong Spectacular Bid.

"When I was growing up in New York," he recalled, "the top trainers - Allen Jerkens, Phil Johnson, and the others - never pushed their 2-year-olds. They wanted horses to be around at 4 and 5 and they knew it wouldn't happen if they made a lot of use of their young horses. I feel the same way.

"Super Fuse will set his own pace. He seems to be precocious, which is why we're going on with him, but we're not going to press him to do more than he can."