07/19/2004 11:00PM

Almuhathir fond of this track


ELMONT, N.Y. - followed a pattern similar to last year's when he won a classified allowance race here June 24. If history continues to repeat itself, Almuhathir could make a second consecutive trip to the winner's circle Thursday, when he meets seven foes in the $60,000 Seeking the Gold Stakes at Belmont Park.

In 2003, Almuhathir wintered at Fair Grounds, ran poorly in his seasonal debut in New York in May, and reeled off consecutive victories at generous prices in June and July.

This year, Almuhathir wintered in Fair Grounds, ran poorly in his New York bow in May, and won a classified allowance race at odds of 11-1 on June 24. His penchant for success at Belmont Park - he is 3-1-1 from six starts - makes him a candidate to win once again in the Seeking the Gold, a race open to horses that have not won a graded stakes in 2003-04. The race is run at 1 1/16 miles.

Trainer Danny Peitz said Almuhathir loves the one-turn routes at Belmont and also prefers to be on the outside of horses. When he finished seventh of eight here May 29, Almuhathir broke from the rail and never got outside. Last time out, he had post 4 of 5. Thursday, he has post 7 of 8.

"Instead of being wide around two turns, you can be wide at Belmont, and you don't lose as much ground or momentum as at other tracks," Peitz said.

Even when he doesn't win, Almuhathir runs well at Belmont. Last fall, he finished third and second behind graded stakes winners in a pair of allowance races.

There should be plenty of pace for Almuhathir with Cherry Pickings and American Style in the race.

This field features several runners with whom Almuhathir has traded decisions in the past year. Regal Sanction is the major threat, having won his last two starts over this track and distance. Most recently, Regal Sanction finished third behind Presidentialaffair in the Skip Away Handicap at Monmouth Park, in which a track record was established for a mile and 70 yards.

Free of Love is 0 for 18 since winning the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap in 2002. He has run behind Regal Sanction and Almuhathir in two starts here this summer.

Personal Touch is 2 for 2 at Belmont, but both races were at seven furlongs. He was a visually impressive winner of a third-level allowance here July 1. Conservation, trained by Barclay Tagg, has won his last two. Your Bluffing completes the field.