10/29/2002 12:00AM

Blinkers off helps River Rush


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The subtraction of blinkers and the addition of Richard Migliore have equaled a three-race win streak for River Rush. That streak will be severely tested Thursday when River Rush takes on nine rivals in a stakes-caliber, one-mile allowance race over the Aqueduct turf course.

Trainer Lisa Lewis decided to remove the blinkers from River Rush following a high-priced claiming race on July 13 in which River Rush was rank and finished third. Prior to that, he had been scratched out of a Belmont Stakes Day allowance race after breaking through the gate.

"We had to get him to relax a little more and that's why I took the blinkers off him," Lewis said.

River Rush's win streak began on Aug. 3 at Saratoga when he set a controlled pace under Migliore and beat Yankee Gentleman by 3 1/2 lengths. Twelve days later, River Rush got away with soft fractions while winning a third-level allowance.

Last month, River Rush wired six rivals in the John Henry Stakes at The Meadowlands. Though there are other speed types in Thursday's field such as Krieger and Political Attack, Lewis expects River Rush to once again be setting the pace.

"He's a one-dimensional horse as far as I'm concerned," Lewis said. "He's relaxed a lot with the blinkers off and Migliore has helped a lot in getting him to relax. We've gotten away with a couple of easier half-miles, but he can run fast if he has to."

River Rush and Krieger have traded victories against each other. Krieger's last win came Oct. 28, 2001, when he ran down River Rush who opened up five lengths in the early going. Krieger last raced in the Kelso where he finished fourth after setting the pace.

Political Attack is among the horses expected for Saturday's $150,000 Knickerbocker Handicap here. But, if he runs in this spot, his speed will make him a factor. Political Attack is coming off a nose loss in the Princeton Stakes on Oct. 4 at The Meadowlands.

If the pace is hot, the horse most likely to pick up the pieces is Jubileo. A 5-year-old son of Cozzene, Jubileo should be able to sit a perfect trip behind the speed under Shaun Bridgmohan. Like River Rush, Jubileo is 1 for 1 at Aqueduct.

Boastful and Sardaukar would also benefit from a strong pace.

This race would be equally compelling if rains were to force it to be moved to the main track. Ubiquity, last year's Clark Handicap winner; Lord ofthe Thunder, beaten one length in the Empire Classic 12 days ago; and Coyote Lakes, the two-time Gallant Fox winner, would head the field on dirt.

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