12/02/2004 12:00AM

Colita a solid alternative to the obvious


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Classic Endeavor has returned to career form. Evening Attire is returning to his preferred surface. But Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct could be a good spot to go against both of the probable favorites.

has never won a stakes race, nor has he raced at the Queens County distance of 1 3/16 miles. But there are some things in his favor that could make him the right one in a fairly competitive renewal of this race.

A son of Grindstone, Colita comes off a second-place finish behind Classic Endeavor in the Grade 3 Stuyvesant Handicap last month. In that race, Classic Endeavor got loose on the lead through slow fractions while Colita got shuffled back entering the far turn before rallying four wide in the stretch to be a clear second.

"Had he been able to work his way into the clear a little sooner, he could have made it closer," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "I think the distance should help us."

Colita should also be helped by the presence of more speed in the race. Admiralty Arch, a former Pletcher trainee, and Zakocity, who has been sharpened with a bullet gate work, could pose an early threat to Classic Endeavor. Also, there is a three-pound weight shift between Classic Endeavor and Colita from the Stuyvesant.

has won four straight races and loves the inner track. He will break from the rail under Aaron Gryder, and his trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr., is supremely confident.

"He won so easy last time," Dutrow said. "Someone else is really going to have to step up their game if he is going to get beat Saturday. He's better than ever."

, a $2.3 million earner who won this race in 2001, has made his last two starts on turf. He returns on two weeks' rest and has to shoulder 123 pounds. His trainer, Pat Kelly, said he is not happy with the weights, but his options are limited. Kelly was in the same position last year, when Evening Attire was beaten by Thunder Blitz giving that rival eight pounds.

Hydrogen, trained by Bruce Levine, comes off a second-place finish in a minor stakes at Delaware Park in a race where he stumbled at the start and the winner, Unforgettable Max, got loose on the lead.

Country Be Gold, Roaring Fever, Kissin Saint, and Private Lap complete the field.