02/20/2008 12:00AM

Contessa likes many – but not all – of his nine


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Through Presidents Day on Monday, Gary Contessa had saddled 304 starters this winter. He has nine more entered in the first seven races Friday, and a synopsis of their chances could prove beneficial.

Race 1: Bankbusted drops from $60,000 to $25,000 first time back from an 11-week layoff.

“I’ve had a lot of troubles with him, and hopefully we’ll get him back in the right direction,” Contessa said.

The one to catch and beat is Mister Nobody, currently in career-best form for trainer Bruce Brown.

Race 2: Contessa’s entry of Friendly Freud and Your Choice are among six last-out maiden winners in a New York-bred allowance.

“Your Choice will run Thursday,” said Contessa, meaning he will not run here. “As for Friendly Freud, this is a tough spot. We’ll find out whether he’s an allowance horse or a 20-claimer.”

Pygmalion, a good-figure maiden winner last out, may vie for favoritism with Midnight Slammer, who showed promise winning at Saratoga last summer.

Race 3: Contessa sends out the entry of Storm a Brewing, the likely pacesetter, and Moneypenny, who can rally late.

“They augment each other well,” he said. “It’s a very average race, and they both have a chance.”

Race 4: Phil Cat got a 44 Beyer Speed Figure finishing third for Contessa on Valentine’s Day, which is tied for the best last-out figure in this race with Jule City.

“It’s not a very tough race,” said Contessa. “She’s been knocking at the door, and one of these races will be hers to win.”

Jule City is part of a Dominick Schettino-trained entry with first-time starter Regally Jen, a half-sister to Galloping Grocer, a debut winner at Saratoga and second in the 2004 Remsen.

Race 5: She’s a Tuf Cookie, in the easy-to-spot fluorescent orange of Winning Move Stable, raced wide and finished third behind 2-5 shot Ok to Pay for $16,000 last out. Both are back two weeks later for $10,000.

“Physically, She’s a Tuf Cookie isn’t the same horse she was last year,” Contessa said. “We’re looking for a level where she can win.”

Race 6: Mr Park Avenue comes off a pair of thirds at the same $35,000 maiden-claiming level. “It’s not an easy race, but last time he had a troubled trip on the inside,” said Contessa. “With a better trip he can win.”

Race 7: The “drop-and-stretch” angle is in play with Again and Again, whose first start off a Contessa claim was a sprint on two days’ rest.

“He’s better going long than short; he’s in the right spot,” Contessa said.