01/11/2002 1:00AM

Bridgmohan having a happy new year


JAMAICA, N.Y. - What a difference a year makes.

A year ago, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan was watching his mounts win races at Aqueduct while he was at home nursing a punctured lung and four broken ribs suffered in a Dec. 23 spill that sidelined him until Jan. 26.

Twelve months later, Bridgmohan, 22, is riding up a storm at the Big A's inner track meet.

Through Friday's card, Bridgmohan has booted home 23 winners from 129 mounts and is third in the standings. Bridgmohan only trails the leader, apprentice Lorenzo Lezcano, by four wins.

Since the inner track meet opened on Dec. 5, Bridgmohan has won two or more races on a single card on six occasions, including three trips to the winner's circle on Thursday.

An exceptionally strong jockey colony is in place for the 2001-2002 inner track meet and Bridgmohan must compete for mounts with, among others, Lezcano, Javier Castellano, Mike Luzzi, Richard Migliore, and Aaron Gryder, the meet's three-time defending champion.

"There are a lot of good riders here," Bridgmohan said before the start of Friday's card, where he had a single winner. "We've got riders like [Migliore] who stayed here this winter. It's just really very competitive."

Bridgmohan, a native of Jamaica, won the Eclipse Award as the country's top apprentice in 1998. Since arriving in New York from Florida in 1998, Bridgmohan has finished among the top 10 riders locally each year. He has won nearly 20 stakes on the New York Racing Association circuit, including back-to-back wins in the Grade 1 Carter aboard Brutally Frank and Peeping Tom, and last year's Queens County and Discovery with Evening Attire, who runs next in Saturday's $100,000-added Aqueduct Handicap.

Bridgmohan has not won a riding title in New York but if he continues to visit the winner's circle with regularity, an inner track title might be within his grasp.

But Bridgmohan said he's not keeping tabs on the amount of winners he has ridden.

"I'm not paying attention to the numbers," Bridgmohan said. "I look at it differently. I'm just trying my best and if it happens, it happens."

Paynes Bay in good spot

There is no stakes at Aqueduct on Sunday, standard for the rest of the inner track meet, with a couple of exceptions.

In the absence of a stakes, a second-level allowance race for older males serves as the eighth race feature.

Six entered the $46,000 allowance, which will be run at 1 1/8 miles.

Paynes Bay looks like he's in a good spot to use his early speed to wire this field. Paynes Bay, a son of Mr. Prospector who fetched $1.6 million at auction as a yearling, was overmatched in the Gallant Fox, where he finished 10th after setting the pace in the 1 5/8-mile marathon.

Richard Migliore rides Paynes Bay, who drew post 5.

Tom's Thunder has hot connections in owner Richard Englander and trainer Scott Lake. Tom's Thunder makes his first start for Englander and Lake, who claimed the gelding for $60,000 out of the horse's last start, a winning one on Dec. 19 at Aqueduct.

Tom's Thunder, a New York-bred stakes winner, is 3 for 6 over the inner track.

Too Scarlet gets freshening

Trainer Kristina Dupps and owner Charles Hallas look like they have a future stakes winner in New York-bred Too Scarlet, a five-length winner of Thursday's feature, an open allowance race.

The win pushed Too Scarlet's lifetime record to six wins in eight starts.

Too Scarlet will get a brief freshening with a spring/summer campaign in mind. Too Scarlet will remain in Dupps's Belmont Park barn during her time away from the races.

o Migliore and Gryder didn't ride at Aqueduct on Thursday or Friday, but were scheduled to return on Saturday after riding in the Kings Cup in Saudi Arabia.