09/15/2003 12:00AM

Both of Hills's runners are big threats


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Tim Hills would rather not run Jeb's Wild and Joe's Son Joey against each other, but the conditions of Wednesday's $56,000 allowance feature at Belmont Park are too good to keep either horse in the barn.

The seven-furlong race is for 3-year-olds and up who have not won a graded stakes in 2002-03. Both Jeb's Wild and Joe's Son Joey are stakes winners, but neither has won a graded event.

"Plus, I'm trying to get them to stretch out because there are some good races coming up at a mile,'' Hills said.

Jeb's Wild and Joe's Son Joey will make up a formidable entry and must be used on pick six tickets chasing the $67,054 carryover on Wednesday.

Joe's Son Joey is the stronger part of the entry with 7 wins from 22 starts. He is coming off minor stakes wins at Calder and Monmouth going five furlongs, but has won at a mile in the past. The only time he has been worse than second in eight starts the last two years was when he finished fifth in the Turf Monster Handicap at Philadelphia Park. He caught a soft turf while returning from a 10-month layoff.

"It was ridiculously soft,'' Hills said "He needed the race.''

The key to Joe's Son Joey's recent success is a change in his running style. No longer a speed demon, he has shown a good turn of foot coming from off the pace.

"When he was younger, he was a free-running horse,'' Hills said. "As he's gotten older we've gotten him to settle more.''

Hills had named Eibar Coa to ride Joe's Son Joey, but Coa was injured in a spill at Belmont on Sunday and is expected to be out for two weeks. Javier Castellano will subsitute for Coa.

Jeb's Wild, who won the Spend a Buck Stakes at 3, is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Play King Handicap at Woodbine on Aug. 16. Jeb's Wild found himself on the lead that day, but Hills believes he's better from off the pace.

"He's just learning to run,'' said Hills, who trained the dam, Jeb, a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Mecke and Beautiful Pleasure. "His dam got good when she was 4 or 5 and he's showing the same thing. Halfway through the Gulfstream meet he started putting it together and he hasn't done anything wrong since.''

Music's Storm and Millennium Dragon are threats on the turf. Trainer Richard Dutrow has entered both Speed Hunter and Aggadan for if the race is moved to the dirt.