04/25/2008 12:00AM

Buddy's Humor is ready but rusty


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Coming off wildly successful winter and spring meets, trainer Bruce Levine may be one of the few who shed a tear when Aqueduct ends its six-month run on Sunday.

But some of those could be tears of joy if Buddy's Humor is able to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Fort Marcy Handicap, the closing-day feature on a nine-race card. A field of seven was entered for the Fort Marcy, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Buddy's Humor, a son of Distorted Humor who cost $435,000 at auction, has not raced since winning the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park last August. Levine had to scratch the horse from the Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware Park last September due to body soreness.

Knowing he couldn't get Buddy's Humor back for any of the late fall turf races, Levine put him away for the winter. Levine said the Fort Marcy has been his target for months.

"I gave him the time, he needed it, so I got my fingers crossed,'' said Levine, whose 13 wins have him atop the trainer standings at this meet. "He's training super, which he never did. The only time he trained pretty good was in company. Now he does it like an older horse.''

Buddy's Humor has only raced three times on turf, winning a maiden race at Belmont last June before finishing second in the Lexington and winning the Jersey Derby in front-running fashion. While Levine said he believes he's better with a target, Buddy's Humor could be the controlling speed in this field.

Silver Tree, an 8-year-old son of Hennessy who has banked more than $1.5 million, is seeking a stakes win for the sixth consecutive year. He is coming off two second-place finishes in stakes at Gulfstream and Tampa and will be making his Aqueduct debut in what is his 38th start.

Operation Red Dawn, beaten a nose by next-out stakes winner Ruff and Ready in an allowance race in January at Gulfstream, seeks his first stakes win. Trainer Christophe Clement said he has battled soundness issues with this gelding over the years, but likes the way he is coming into this race.

Clement called Operation Red Dawn "a very live outsider.''

Twilight Meteor suffered narrow losses in the Kent and Hawthorne Derby last year. He was beaten almost nine lengths at Fair Grounds in the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap, run over yielding turf, in his seasonal debut.

Barastraight, Pays to Dream, and Wood Be Willing complete the field.