05/13/2003 11:00PM

All signs point to Abreeze


ELMONT, N.Y. - Abreeze ran some huge races last year at Belmont Park and Saratoga, particularly over wet tracks.

In Friday's $58,000 money-allowance feature at Belmont, the conditions should be perfect for Abreeze to turn in another powerful performance. Rain is in the forecast for Thursday evening and Friday's twilight racing card.

Abreeze is the one to beat among five older horses in the 1 1/8-mile race. Also entered are stakes winners Request for Parole, Ground Storm, and Free of Love. Pleasant Divorce completes the field.

Last June, Abreeze, who is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, won a $35,000 claiming race by 12 lengths in the slop at Belmont. Following that win, Abreeze won two allowance races, including one in the slop at Saratoga. Abreeze finished a good second to Evening Attire over another wet track in the Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap. After the Saratoga BC, Abreeze ended the season with three losses, including a 12th in the Japan Cup in November.

Abreeze, who will be ridden by Richard Migliore, has lost three starts this year in Dubai, but those losses came in races that didn't really suit him. Each of those races were at a mile or less, which is shorter than Abreeze prefers. The 8-year-old Abreeze also has shown a need for Lasix, a medication that is not permitted in Dubai.

McLaughlin was anxious for Friday's race to fill because if it hadn't he was going to ship Abreeze to Pimlico to run him in Saturday's $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap, a Grade 3 stakes.

"I'm happy this went because it's a good spot to get started," McLaughlin said. "This horse is a pleasure to be around and I'm looking forward to a good summer with him. We're going to try to pick our spots."

Abreeze, who looms the lone speed Friday, drew post 3.

The consistent Ground Storm looks like Abreeze's biggest threat.

Ground Storm is 1 for 8 at Belmont, but four of those losses were second-place finishes. Trained by Bill Mott, Ground Storm hasn't raced since finishing third in the Stymie Handicap at Aqueduct on March 16.

Javier Castellano rides Ground Storm from post 5.

Free of Love hasn't won a race since the Grade 3 Westchester here on opening day of the spring meet last year. He missed 4 1/2 months last year because of an injury and has lost five starts since returning to competition in December.

Request for Parole, who ran well in two grass races this year, makes his Belmont debut.