12/31/2003 1:00AM

'Dan' given a change of scenery


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - An injury to Snake Mountain leaves a void in New York's handicap division this winter that the connections of will be more than happy to fill.

Danthebluegrassman, a multiple stakes winner at 3, will make his New York debut Friday in a $54,000 optional claiming race that could yield a starter or two for the $75,000 Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 17.

A field of 10 was entered in Friday's mile and 70-yard race, including inner-track lover Classic Endeavor and stakes winners Free of Love and Super Fuse.

Trainer Bob Baffert and owner Mike Pegram sent Terranova both Danthebluegrassman and the New York-bred maiden Culturally Current, who was scheduled to run Thursday.

"Bob and Mike thought that this horse might fit in well through the winter time here,'' said Terranova of Danthebluegrassman.

At 3, Danthebluegrassman won the Golden Gate Derby and Northern Dancer Handicap. He was entered in the Kentucky Derby, but scratched the morning of the race. His form tailed off, but he appeared to rebound with back-to-back allowance wins in June to start this season.

Things deteriorated after that with poor performances in a pair of stakes at Del Mar. Most recently, Danthebluegrassman was beaten 23 lengths in an allowance at Churchill on Nov. 4. Danthebluegrassman has breezed three times for Terranova, including a sharp half-mile move in a bullet 47.24 seconds on Monday.

"All indications are that he's ready to run. He's been pretty smooth,'' Terranova said. "He came in in great shape, feeling really good and moving well. We breezed him a few times; he's settled in.''

Danthebluegrassman could work out a perfect stalking trip behind a crush of speed horses, including Classic Endeavor, Trompolino, Abreeze, and Speed Hunter.

Classic Endeavor is 5 for 10 over the inner track and makes his second start off a four-month layoff for trainer Scott Schwartz. He finished a bad fifth in his return, 18 3/4 lengths behind Abreeze.

Trompolino makes his New York debut after being claimed by Mike Hushion and Barry Schwartz out of a Santa Anita turf race. All five of his career wins have come over a wet track and rain is in the forecast for Friday.

Peekskill will a late threat if able to duplicate his effort from two starts back in which he earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. He must overcome post 10.