12/04/2004 12:00AM

Classic Endeavor all the way

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Classic Endeavor scores a front-running victory in Saturday's Queens County Handicap, his fifth straight win.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Classic Endeavor, a sweet claim for trainer Richard Dutrow, Jr., won his fifth straight race after scoring a front-running victory Saturday afternoon in the Grade 3, $112,100 at Aqueduct.

The 99th running of the Queens County, at 1 3/16 miles, was the first graded stakes of the Big A's inner-track season.

Ridden by Aaron Gryder, Classic Endeavor ($7.50) rated the pace from the start and held off a late bid from Evening Attire by three-quarters of a length. Colita was third in the race, which was timed in 1:57.13 over a fast track.

Dutrow claimed Classic Endeavor for $50,000 from Scott Lake on Aug. 1 at Saratoga. A 6-year-old, Classic Endeavor has captured three in a row since the barn change, including the Grade 3 Stuyvesant Handicap at Aqueduct in his prior start.

Dutrow said he came into the Queens County supremely confident.

"He likes the inner track, he drew a good post, and there was not a lot of weight on him," said Dutrow.

Classic Endeavor carried 117 pounds, six fewer than Evening Attire, the highweight in the field who broke poorly and had a lot of ground to make up.

The winner of this race in 2001, Evening Attire swept into contention with a wide move on the final turn and continued gamely through the lane. Evening Attire settled for second in the Queens County for a second straight year. He was runner-up to Thunder Blitz in 2003.

Classic Endeavor took the shortest route from his rail position. The win improved his Aqueduct inner-track record to six wins and five seconds in 15 starts.

As much as he hates to do it, Dutrow will tear Classic Endeavor away from Aqueduct for his next start and point him for the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 29 at Gulfstream Park.

"It's a million bucks, babe," said Dutrow. "We've got to go for it."

* The Big A stewards slapped apprentice jockey Rajiv Maragh with a 15-day suspension for "gross careless riding" in the first race Friday, during which three horses and riders went down. Maragh was granted a stay after appealing the penalty, which is due to start Dec. 9.