02/21/2006 1:00AM

All unproven at marathon distance


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Ten older horses will enter uncharted waters on Thursday when they are asked to go 1 1/2 miles for the first time in the $33,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park. The long-distance event will be decided under entry-level conditions on the turf.

A good case can be made for up to half the field, beginning with Pitchnicholas, who has held his career-best form extremely well over the past several months. The 4-year-old Pitchnicholas has run Beyer Speed Figures of 86 or 87 in each of his last four starts on grass and will be taking a decided drop in class after finishing just 1 1/2 lengths behind the red-hot Terrific Storm under third- level allowance conditions going 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 9.

Like his nine rivals, Pitchnicholas has never tried 12 furlongs, but he had little problem handling 1 3/8 miles when he finished a fast-closing second in a $16,000 starter allow-ance race over the Calder turf last fall.

Like , both French Horn and Restigouche have already proven their mettle at 11 furlongs.

was beaten less than a length after setting all the pace when he was sent 1 3/8 miles for the only time in September 2004. He also won his maiden going 1 1/4 miles, earning a Beyer Figure of 92 in the process, last summer in New York. He may also prove the controlling speed following a much-needed outing in a rapidly run turf race here on Jan. 20.

won a $35,000 claiming race going 1 3/8 miles over the Belmont turf course last spring but has been idle since July. Leadwithyourchin has never been beyond 1 1/4 miles but is coming off a career-best performance when he surged from the rear of the pack to an impressive 6 1/4-length maiden win Feb. 6. He was awarded a Beyer of 93 for that victory, which makes him a key contender if he can repeat the effort coming back on less than three weeks' rest.

will take considerable support coming from the barn of the meet's leading trainer, Todd Pletcher. He is also coming off one of the best races of his career, when he overcame a slow start to finish second going nine furlongs under similar allowance conditions earlier this month.