12/04/2003 12:00AM

Anyone's race with 'Snake' out


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Snake Mountain would have been heavily favored to win his second consecutive Queens County Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct, but a bruised right-hind foot will keep him in the barn.

That was not disturbing news to the trainers of the eight horses entered in the Grade 3 Queens County, run at 1 3/16 miles over the inner track. With Snake Mountain out, the race is wide open, with Thunder Blitz, Unforgettable Max, and Peekskill expected to vie for favoritism.

A Nor'easter is forecast for the weekend and could put Saturday's nine-race card in jeopardy. At the least, the Queens County will be run over a wet track.

Thunder Blitz, who won the 2001 Flamingo and was fourth in the 2001 Kentucky Derby, has recorded two of his three career victories over wet tracks. In April, he won a second-level allowance at Aqueduct in the mud. He has lost five consecutive races since but just missed in the Grade 3 Stuyvesant Handicap last time out.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Thunder Blitz might have won the Stuyvesant had he switched leads earlier.

"The way he kicked in that last 70 yards, you'd have to think so,'' said Dutrow, who has begun the inner track meet 4 for 5. "Edgar [Prado] said he didn't have his mind totally on everything."

Thunder Blitz figures to be forwardly placed under Jorge Chavez in a field that does not contain much early speed.

Unforgettable Max also figures to be close to the pace. He is coming off a nose loss to During in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap over the main track Oct. 29.

"In the Discovery, he started loafing a little bit and lugging in a little bit, and the other horse kept on digging in," said trainer Benjamin Perkins.

Unforgettable Max will break from the rail under Javier Castellano.

One wouldn't think a son of Meadowlake would be suited for 1 3/16 miles, but Peekskill has shown trainer Frank Laboccetta that he "wants to run all day. He's got a great set of lungs on him."

Laboccetta claimed Peekskill for $35,000 late in the Saratoga meet and has run him twice, with a third-place finish and a win in a third-level allowance race. Peekskill earned a career-best 107 Beyer Speed Figure in that race, run over a wet track. Victor Carrero rides from post 2.