02/10/2009 12:00AM

Brilliant Son in for $100K tag

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Brilliant Son and Barcola, who took part in an enervating pace battle in the recent Evening Attire Stakes at Aqueduct, figure to knock heads again early in Thursday's featured third race, a high-end optional claimer with a $57,000 pot.

The two-turn race at a mile and 70 yards also drew 15-time winner Coyoteshighestcall, Chilean import Real Merchant, and $1 million earner Judiths Wild Rush.

Brilliant Son was entered for the $100,000 claim price by Kiaran McLaughlin. He has run well in both starts at the meet, beginning with a close second in the Queens County against the streaking Researcher, who was winning his fourth in a row.

Brilliant Son followed up with a remarkable third in the Evening Attire, when he wrested command from Barcola on the far turn, fell three lengths behind in the stretch, and came again late to miss by little more than a length.

"Brilliant Son is the horse to beat," said trainer Julian Canet, who takes another crack at the 4-5 morning-line favorite with Judiths Wild Rush, a familiar veteran whose first New York appearance came in the 2004 Bay Shore.

Judiths Wild Rush ran evenly when fourth in the Evening Attire. The 8-year-old gets a switch back to Orlando Bocachica, who was aboard for his last victory at Suffolk Downs last summer and has been the winter meet's pre-eminent longshot rider, with eight winners at an average price of $40.75.

"Judiths Wild Rush is the type you can't take too much of a hold of, and [Bocachica] knows the horse, so we'll give him a shot," said Canet. "He's been doing very well."

The wild card could be Real Merchant, who won 5 of 10 starts in Chile, at distances ranging from six to 10 furlongs.

Real Merchant's only start in this country came three months ago in the Alysheba Stakes over a sloppy track at the Meadowlands.

"Down in Chile he was one of the best of his generation," said trainer Seth Benzel. He noted that Real Merchant made a good effort running against the grain of a speed-favoring surface. "We're hoping he uses that race and goes forward."

Real Merchant picks up leading rider Ramon Dominguez, who tied a New York Racing Association record by winning with six consecutive mounts last weekend.