12/21/2002 12:00AM

Critical Eye goes out a winner

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Critical Eye rose to the occasion in her final career start by winning Saturday's $107,400 at Aqueduct.

The win in the Grade 3 Ladies put Critical Eye, who will be bred next year, over $1 million in earnings. New York-bred Critical Eye came with a late move in the stretch for a 1 1/4-length win over Ellie's Moment. With Ability, the 1-2 favorite, finished third, 6 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up.

Wishful Splendor, Along Came Mary, and Unrestrained completed the order of finish.

Critical Eye, under Mike Luzzi, trailed the field for the opening six furlongs, while With Ability set an uncontested pace in the 1 1/4-mile Ladies. With Ability, coupled in the wagering with Unrestrained, covered a mile in 1:38.48 before she was challenged by Ellie's Moment in the stretch. Critical Eye zoomed by the tiring pacesetter and Ellie's Moment with a sixteenth of a mile remaining.

Aaron Gryder, With Ability's rider, said, "She punched, but wasn't able to hold on."

Luzzi, who rode Critical Eye in many of her 38 career starts, said, "She's been special to me. A mare like her tries so hard, she deserves this. Hey, I will ride her babies."

Critical Eye ($13.40) completed the distance over a fast track in 2:04.19. Scott Schwartz, who trains Critical Eye for his father, Herbert, and his stepmother, Carol, said he was happy that Critical Eye was able to pass $1 million in earnings. The 5-year-old entered the Ladies, $3,456 shy.

"She really ran lights-out," Scott Schwartz said.

"I'm glad it's over. She's done everything and then some."

Schwartz said Critical Eye would leave his Aqueduct barn in a week for Kentucky. He said one of the sires his father is considering for Critical Eye, a daughter of Dynaformer, is Deputy Minister.

Critical Eye, a New York-bred champion, won the Grade 1 Gazelle as a 3-year-old and the Grade 1 Hempstead last year. This year, the mare tailed off a bit and she was without a stakes victory until the Ladies.

Critical Eye retires with a record of 14-4-3 from 38 starts and earnings of $1,060,984.