10/19/2005 11:00PM

Clever Electrician healthier for rematch

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Clever Electrician comes into the Hudson Handicap off three consecutive bullet works.

ELMONT, N.Y. - If you liked last year's Hudson Handicap, then you're in luck. You may actually get to see it all over again.

Friendly Island, Clever Electrician and Papua - the top three finishers from last year's Hudson - are back to give it another shot.

Clever Electrician was sent off the favorite in last year's Hudson based on his impressive win in the General Douglas MacArthur Handicap. Shortly after last year's Hudson, Clever Electrician was found to have a hairline fracture in his knee.

"He ran a little flat," said trainer Bruce Levine, recalling last year's Hudson. "He was starting to get a problem. I believe we're going into it a lot better.''

has run only four times this year, winning a restricted handicap and the MacArthur while finishing third in the Tom Fool and second in the John Morrissey. Clever Electrician shows three bullet works since the MacArthur, including a half-mile in 46.15 seconds, the best of 112 at the distance on Monday.

, who has won 5 of 7 career starts, has not run since finishing seventh in last November's Fall Highweight Handicap. He needed surgery to take a chip out of a knee and trainer Todd Pletcher said he ran out of time trying to get a prep race into him.

In his career debut last year, however, Friendly Island ran six furlongs in 1:08.40 and won a New York-bred maiden race by 17 1/4 lengths.

"We felt like the chances of him running a peak race first time back were good and we didn't want to run two weeks out and have him run well and not fire quite as well on short rest,'' Pletcher said.

Friendly Island will break from the outside post in the eight-horse field.

Friendly Island will have a difficult time trying to wire this group with the presence of Show Boot in the field. Show Boot was used as a rabbit for Saint Liam in the Woodward so his last race can be thrown out.

A hotly contested pace would benefit , a 6-year-old son of Louis Quatorze who has won 11 of 35 starts. Owned by Barry Schwartz and trained by Mike Hushion, Papua comes off a two-length win in a seven-furlong race in which he raced closer to the pace than usual.

"The speed got left in the gate and nobody knew what to do,'' Hushion said. "He's better with a moving target in front of him where he can get behind horses, get some daylight at the eighth pole, and make a run. Physically, he's very, very sound right now.''

Mayo Post, Introspect, and Karakorum Patriot complete the field.