02/03/2005 1:00AM

'Accolade' cuts back to one turn


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - While it might not be square one, Proud Accolade is certainly taking a step back for Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park. After a pair of poor performances going two turns, Proud Accolade is back in a one-turn race, a scenario under which he won his first three starts.

On his best day, is among the best of his generation, as he proved in last year's Champagne Stakes. But subsequent flops in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Hollywood Futurity have left him a question mark as he embarks on his 3-year-old campaign.

"I've just got to draw a line though his race at Hollywood," Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Proud Accolade, said at his Palm Meadows barn. "Physically, he's doing well. We'll start over and see what happens."

Proud Accolade drew the rail in the Hutcheson, which will be run for the first time at 7 1/2 furlongs. He is removing the blinkers that were added for the Hollywood Futurity, run Dec. 18.

"He shipped out to Hollywood at the end of November," Pletcher said. "The only thing I would do different is go out closer to the race. He was in New York. My barn was moving to Florida. I didn't want to send him to Florida, and then out to California, so he went with my horses who ran in the Autumn Turf Festival at the end of November. I think he had a little of an acclimation letdown. That's the only thing I can come up with."

Pletcher also entered , a late-running winner going six furlongs against a first-level allowance field here on Jan. 21.

The Hutcheson drew two other important stakes winners from last fall in Defer, the Laurel Futurity winner, and Park Avenue Ball, who captured the Belmont Futurity.

Defer, a regally bred son of Danzig, has won twice in three starts, his lone loss coming when second to the unbeaten Rockport Harbor in the Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct.

"He's training very well," said Shug McGaughey, who trains Defer. "I think he's got a chance to be a good horse. It might not be on Saturday. It might not be until he goes a mile and an eighth, not seven and a half furlongs, but this should set him up to go a mile and an eighth a month later."

Park Avenue Ball was a 10-1 upset winner of the Belmont Futurity. He has not raced since finishing a well-beaten fifth behind Proud Accolade in the Champagne.

Devil at Sea was second in his last start to Dearest Mon, who will be one of the leading contenders in Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes.