12/28/2004 1:00AM

Bank Audit faces big hurdles


NEW YORK - Is Bank Audit sharp enough to overcome a class rise and a tough outside post? That question will be answered in the competitive eighth race at Aqueduct on Thursday. The nonwinners-of-three-other-than allowance for fillies and mares has an optional claiming price of $65,000 and features several hard-hitting performers.

has excelled in her two starts since being given a seven-week rest by trainer Greg Martin. She returned to the races in a $35,000 claimer over the Aqueduct main track on Nov. 6 and blew away her rivals by nine lengths, earning a 93 Beyer Speed Figure. She then proved the "bounce" theorists wrong in her last start, when she earned a career-best 95 Beyer defeating nonwinners-of-two-other-than allowance foes. Both of those races were sprints, however, and she must prove that she can stretch her speed around two turns in this spot. It should be noted that she prevailed in a two-turn mile over the inner track earlier this year.

Bank Audit must break from the far outside post Thursday, and Norberto Arroyo Jr. may have no choice but to hustle his mount from the gate in the hopes of finding a stalking spot just off the early pacesetters.

Inner-track-loving looms the controlling speed under Pedro Cotto Jr. and should appreciate dropping in class after competing in three straight stakes. A restricted stakes-winner over the main track this season, Our Tune faced Board Elligible, a rock-solid New York-bred, in her last appearance and could get very brave if allowed to get an easy early advantage. Our Tune adores this distance and can prove a major threat.

Stablemates-turned-rivals Childress and Picnic Theme can also contend for the win. Childress was claimed from Richard Dutrow Jr. after she defeated Picnic Theme at this class level on Nov. 24. Now trained by the red-hot Dominic Galluscio, Childress has earned a Beyer of 90 or better in her last three races, and her recent bullet workout indicates she has retained her sharp form. Childress seeks her 11th lifetime victory Thursday, but has yet to win over the inner track. Rafael Bejarano has the mount.

won the Queen Lib Handicap for New Jersey-breds at the Meadowlands for Dutrow two starts back and then raced evenly for third behind Childress last time. She has the tactical speed to sit a nice trip with possible first run on Our Tune.

Sweet Dynamite, Bluffie Slew, Lady Libby, and Freeroll complete the lineup.