11/08/2003 1:00AM

Docent gets his chance in Stuyvesant


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Though he has won 15 of 27 starts, including 11 stakes, Docent has never won a graded event. His best opportunity to do that is Tuesday when he heads an eight-horse field in the Grade 3, $100,000 Stuyvesant at Aqueduct.

Docent, a 5-year-old gelded son of Waquoit, finished third in the Stuyvesant last year and second in the Grade 3 Queens County over Aqueduct's inner track. This year, Docent has won 6 of 8 starts and is coming off a nose victory in the Maryland Million Classic, a race he has won three consecutive years.

Trainer Tim Ritchey said he is "75 percent'' sure to run Docent in the nine-furlong Stuyvesant, though he is also considering the $100,000 Mountaineer Mile in West Virginia or the $50,000 Hail Emperor Stakes at Laurel, both to be run Saturday.

Docent ran down a loose-on-the-lead Presidentialaffair to win the Maryland Million Classic.

"I thought there'd be more pace than what there was," Ritchey said. "There was another speed horse who didn't go. Once we moved to [Presidentialaffair] he obviously had a little more left, and we had to run pretty hard to beat him."

Presidentialaffair, who has recorded his two best Beyer Speed Figures in distance races, will be the one to catch under Richard Migliore, who replaces Elvis Trujillo. Trainer Martin Ciresa said he is looking forward to another shot at Docent.

"I thought I should have beat him last time," Ciresa said. "A little impatient ride last time cost him. Going into the first turn he decided he had to go, and once this horse goes that's it. Hopefully, going a little less distance and a more experienced rider should turn the tables, even though Docent is a great horse."

Gander and Saarland head the local contingent. Gander, a 7-year-old New York-bred gelding, has posted an allowance win and finished second in the Empire Classic since recovering from a stifle injury. The only negative is he is 0 for 6 at Aqueduct.

Saarland is 3 for 5 at Aqueduct, including a win in the Grade 2 Remsen in 2001. He is coming off a solid allowance win at Belmont on Oct. 5. John Velazquez chose to ride Saarland over Gander.

Almuhathir finished second behind Saarland in that Oct. 5 allowance race and has been in excellent form in his last four starts. He has yet to prove he can win around two turns on dirt, however.