02/02/2005 1:00AM

Childress gets a fresh start


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - After making five straight starts for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. and never finishing out of the money, Childress finished last of six in her most recent start after being claimed away from Dutrow.

Dutrow claimed her back that day, for $65,000, on behalf of owner Sanford Goldfarb. On paper, it looks like it could be a case of buyer's remorse, since Childress ran so poorly. But Dutrow said the race should be thrown out, and if a handicapper is willing to do so - and Dutrow offers a compelling argument - Childress looks like the one to beat in Friday's featured ninth race at Gulfstream Park.

The feature is a one-turn mile for older fillies and mares eligible for a third-level allowance condition, or a $75,000 claiming price. Nine are entered, including a Jeff Hooper-trained entry of Jade Palace and Picture Gallery.

was punching out Beyer Speed Figures in the upper 80's to mid-90's with Dutrow, who sent her out to two victories last fall at Belmont Park and Aqueduct. Her last start for Dutrow came on Aqueduct's main track on Nov. 24, when she won an optional claiming race by 2 3/4 lengths. She was claimed that day by Dominic Galluscio, who ran Childress back on Aqueduct's inner track on Dec. 30. Offered for the same price at which she was claimed, Dutrow went back in.

"When I put her in at the end of the Aqueduct main-track meet, I knew she'd be tough to beat, and I knew I wouldn't be running her on the inner track. She was going to come straight here," Dutrow said Wednesday. "So she came back for $65,000 on the inner, and ran bad. But she hates the inner track. We knew that.

"It took us about two or three weeks to put her weight back on. She needed some new shoes, too. She's ready to roll now. She likes Gulfstream, and we got some breezes into her."

John Velazquez, who won two races on Childress last year, is aboard.

, one of the horses trainer Mike Mitchell brought here from California, might offer the biggest challenge to Childress. She rallied to finish second in a similar spot on Jan. 7 when going six furlongs. Jerry Bailey has a return call.

has won two of her last three starts against slightly softer allowance company. She gets the meet's leading rider, Edgar Prado.

Aesculus, who began her career in Great Britain, was a winner of her U.S. debut on Jan. 6 in a second-level allowance. Prado rode her that day, but has jumped to Provincial. Brice Blanc picks up the mount.