11/09/2005 12:00AM

Better Than Bonds tries softer

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After unsuccessfully butting heads with Lost in the Fog and Silver Train in his last two starts, Better Than Bonds finds some class relief Friday when he runs in a third-level allowance that serves as the feature on Aqueduct's nine-race card.

The seven-furlong race has an optional claiming clause and two horses - Upturn and Potrisunrise - are offered for the $75,000 tag.

On July 30, Better Than Bonds won a second-level allowance race at Saratoga by four lengths, beating Awesome Twist, who is among his five rivals on Friday. Following that performance, tried Lost in the Fog in the Grade 1 King's Bishop, finishing third, 5 1/2 lengths behind Lost in the Fog. He encountered traffic trouble that might have cost him second place.

Trainer Robert Reinacher wheeled Better Than Bonds back two weeks later in the Jerome on Sept. 11, and he finished a non-threatening fifth behind Silver Train, who came back to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Reinacher suggests Better Than Bonds didn't handle running back on short rest.

"I really can't put my finger on it," Reinacher said Wednesday. "He just appeared flat that day. He was a little dull for 7 to 10 days thereafter, but nothing that jumped out at you."

Reinacher said Better Than Bonds showed some spark again in mid-October and began to train better. On Oct. 29, he worked four furlongs in 49 seconds over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga, the best of 35 breezes at the distance.

won a second-level allowance race in the mud at Saratoga and subsequently bombed in the Jerome and Perryville at Keeneland. Trainer John Kimmel said he planned to run Awesome Twist in blinkers for the first time on Friday.

"In the Perryville, he dropped so far out of it," Kimmel said. "He made a little a little move but there's no way that horse should be falling so far out of it. He's worked very well [in blinkers] the two times I've worked him in them. I know there's a lot more that he's not showing me. Hopefully, this will be part of the solution."

, a consistent 8-year-old gelding, could be the one to catch. He comes off a win at this condition on Sept. 5 with a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 103. Tashdeed also comes off a career-best performance, winning a second-level allowance race by 1 1/4 lengths last out.

Redskin Warrior, the 2004 Best Turn winner, completes the field.