01/13/2007 1:00AM

Bill Place proves he prefers sprinting


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Five 3-year-old sprinters who each made his last start at a different racetrack will converge at Aqueduct on Monday in the $65,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at six furlongs.

Horses coming from Mountaineer, Arlington, Philadelphia, and Laurel will take on local hopeful Wollaston Bay in the featured event on a nine-race Martin Luther King Jr. Day card.

Numbers-wise, Bill Place comes off the most impressive performance, taking a first-level allowance race at Philadelphia Park on Dec. 17 by 6 3/4 lengths. He covered the distance in 1:09.06 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

That race was the second start off the claim for Tony Dutrow, who took him for $50,000 on behalf of Michael Dubb. In his first start for those connections, Bill Place ran second in a one-mile first-level allowance race at Laurel in October. Dutrow shortened him to six furlongs and he roared from off the pace to win at Philly.

"When we claimed him I thought, 'I'm going to stretch him out a little bit, maybe this is what he really wants,' '' Dutrow said. "After the race I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't jumping up and down like I ran the best horse in the world.

"I'm fooling with him and I look up one day and say, 'I'm going to cut him back in distance, let me see what happens.' He just ran so impressive to me. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but after the race I was like 'Wow, that was really, really good.' ''

Dutrow is concerned, however, about is the likelihood of a wet track.

"I don't know what the mud means, maybe it's good, maybe it's bad,'' Dutrow said. "Yeah, it's on my mind.''

Bill Place, who breaks from post 3, should get a contested pace in front of him in the Winkfield. Wollaston Bay, a two-time winner in New York for Gary Sciacca, will likely be confronted by Holy Wonder, part of an uncoupled entry sent out by trainer Mike Maker. Wollaston Bay and Holy Wonder have the two inside posts.

Maker will also send out B.B. Mancini, an Indiana-bred who has won his last three races from off the pace - a restricted stakes at Hoosier and two allowance races at Mountaineer.

Wollaston Bay hasn't run since Nov. 10, but only because trainer Gary Sciacca couldn't find a race for him that would fill.