01/31/2003 12:00AM

Distance issue for Coyote Lakes


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There is no stakes race for handicap males in New York during the month of February. Sunday's $56,000 allowance race, called the King's Swan, fits the bill nicely.

Aqueduct inner-track lovers Coyote Lakes and Ground Storm head a strong field of seven set to contest nine furlongs in a race that could serve as a prep for next month's $75,000 Stymie Handicap.

The 9-year-old Coyote Lakes is 9 for 14 over the inner track, including three straight victories in the 13-furlong Gallant Fox Handicap. Ground Storm is 4 for 6 over the inner oval, including a victory in last year's Stymie.

Coyote Lakes will likely be favored, though he must prove he can cut back in distance.

"It's not his favorite, everybody knows it, but how are you going to get what you want?" said trainer Bruce Levine, referring to Coyote Lakes's preference for longer distance races.

Coyote Lakes shows only one work - a half-mile breeze in 51 seconds on Thursday - since his last start, the Dec. 28 Gallant Fox. But, Levine said, Coyote Lakes has gotten enough out of his morning gallops to be ready for this.

"He's fit, you don't have to do much with him," Levine said. "He halfway trains himself."

Levine said that should Coyote Lakes win Sunday, he may wheel him back in the John B. Campbell Handicap at Laurel on Feb. 16.

"If he can't win this, I'm not going to Laurel," Levine said.

Coyote Lakes and Tempest Fugit will both carry 123 pounds, conceding three to 12 pounds to the rest of the field.

While Ground Storm has never been worse than second in six inner track starts, he was beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Snake Mountain in the Aqueduct Handicap two weeks ago. Almost exactly a year ago, Ground Storm defeated Coyote Lakes by 4 3/4 lengths at 10 furlongs, getting the same three pounds he gets Sunday.

Classic Endeavor, who has won four of his last five starts, could be the one to catch, though he is 0 for 6 at nine furlongs. He won an allowance race on Jan. 12 with a front-running effort and has since come back with a bullet half-mile workout over the inner track.

Quiet One could be the one to beat at a price. A 7-year-old son of Quiet American, Quiet One comes off a neck loss in a $75,000 claiming race following a seven-week layoff. He has defeated Ground Storm and Classic Endeavor in the past and should get first run on Coyote Lakes and Ground Storm.

My Man Ryan is 3-3-1 from seven inner track starts and may appreciate stretching out to nine furlongs. Panner completes the field.

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