09/29/2003 11:00PM

Congrats looks for his form

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Congrats, looking to bounce back from a poor performance in the Grade 1 Travers in August at Saratoga, faces six older horses in Thursday's feature at Belmont Park.

The third-level allowance race, which has a purse of $52,000, will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

The regally bred Congrats, a son of A.P. Indy out of the Mr. Prospector mare Praise, finished fifth in the Travers, beaten 18 1/2 lengths, after hitting the rail on the first turn. The Travers was preceded by a solid third-place finish in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.

Shug McGaughey, who trains Congrats for Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider, was somewhat baffled by the colt's Travers performance.

"He didn't run good at all that day," said McGaughey, who hopes to use Thursday's race as a springboard to the $100,000 Discovery on Oct. 29 at Aqueduct. "He was bothered around the first turn and I don't know if that had anything to do with it or not. He's a better horse than that, I hope."

In July, Congrats turned in a big effort here, winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance race by 5 1/4 lengths over next-out winner, Poppy's Image.

Congrats, who will be reunited with Edgar Prado, drew post 3.

Thunder Blitz has lost three consecutive starts as the favorite at this level, but is training like a horse ready to run on a good race. Since his latest loss on Aug. 27, Thunder Blitz posted three solid works at Belmont, including a bullet five furlongs in 59.40 seconds on Sept. 21.

Richard Migliore rides Thunder Blitz from the rail.

Strive, who hasn't won a race in nearly a year, finished second to Quest in his last start on Aug. 27 at this level. Quest returned to finish second in last Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup, beaten 4 1/4 lengths by the winner, Mineshaft.

Strive has a win and a second in two starts at Belmont.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. has the entry of Big Sid's Party and It's So Simple. It's So Simple ran with a bar shoe on Aug. 27 and finished fourth, beaten five lengths by Strive, who was second. Big Sid's Party was second in a $50,000 claimer at Saratoga in his last start.

Nothing Flat was ambitiously placed when he ran in the Grade 1 Suburban and Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup. Peekskill makes his first start for trainer Frank LaBoccetta Jr., who claimed the gelding for $35,000 on Aug. 31 at Saratoga.