01/15/2009 1:00AM

Barrier Reef strong on inner


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It probably was not Sheikh Mohammed al -Maktoum's wish that Barrier Reef became an Aqueduct inner track horse for course. But since that appears to be the case, Barrier Reef will be wheeled back on short rest to run in Saturday's $65,000 Evening Attire Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

Only five were entered for the race, formerly known as the Aqueduct Handicap and renamed for the multiple-graded-stakes-winning gelding and fan favorite who was retired due to injury last year. Evening Attire won this race in 2002.

Barrier Reef is 3 for 4 over the inner track and 0 for 6 elsewhere. Last winter, Barrier Reef won a maiden race and the Whirlaway Stakes over the inner track, prompting a promotion from Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable to his Godolphin operation. But a foot injury limited him to one start in four months - a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland.

Unable to break through the second-level allowance barrier in the summer, Barrier Reef was returned in September to trainer Tom Albertrani, who gave him a freshening. Albertrani didn't run Barrier Reef until Jan. 2 when he came from well off the pace to win a second-level allowance race, earning a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure. It wasn't Albertrani's intent to run Barrier Reef back this soon, but he's here.

"He came out of the race good. We're going to take our chances," Albertrani said. "It's a little quick back, but it looked like he rebounded quickly from the race. We'll see what happens; if it doesn't work out, we could always regroup again."

There should be ample speed in this race to set up Barrier Reef's late run. Barcola is a speedy sort who has been trounced by much tougher in his last three races. He earned a career-best 108 Beyer when winning an allowance race over this course 25 months ago. He also finished second to Evening Attire in the Queens County 13 months ago.

Trainer Mark Hennig has reached out for jockey Kendrick Carmouoche, who has been aboard for this horse's last four wins.

Judiths Wild Rush, who breaks from the rail, is likely to press the pace.

Brilliant Son, second in the Queens County last month, is another with speed, and his connections intend to use it.

"We're planning on breaking and leaving there running," said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Broadway Producer, who comes off a victory in the Jennings Handicap at Laurel last out, will benefit from a lively pace.