12/10/2002 1:00AM

Dutrow always dangerous here


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There's something about Aqueduct that brings out the best in Maryland-based trainer Anthony Dutrow.

Last winter, Dutrow batted .500 over the inner track (9 for 18) and won a couple of stakes. This fall, Dutrow batted 1.000 over the main track (5 for 5). Thursday, he hopes to keep his Big A fortunes rolling with a pair of runners in Ebb n' Flow in the fifth and Nice Boots Baby in the featured eighth, a third-level allowance race for fillies and mares going six furlongs.

Nice Boots Baby contributed to Dutrow's inner track success last year with an allowance win and a convincing score in the Ruthless Stakes. But things fell apart for the filly after that, as she finished last as the 2-5 favorite in the Dearly Precious Stakes. She was said to have suffered a hip injury in the race.

But since returning from that injury, Nice Boots Baby is 0 for 4, including three tries at the third-level allowance condition in races at Delaware and Laurel. She showed improvement in her last start on Oct. 26 when she set a strong and contested pace and held second, beaten one length by Two Times a Lady, who came back to run second in another allowance race at Laurel.

"I don't know what has been troubling her, I don't know," Dutrow said Tuesday. "I do know right now that Nice Boots Baby the last month has been training as good as I could want one to train. I'm anticipating her running a very good race. She's leading me to believe that she's ready for a good one. She might fool me again."

Nice Boots Baby is a speed horse and she figures to be on or near the pace from her outside post under Richard Migliore.

Trainer Pat Reynolds may have the horse to beat in Shawklit Mint, a New York-bred daughter of Air Forbes Won, who beat open company two back in a second-level allowance race at Belmont. In her last start, she rallied wide and finished well to be second, beaten one-half length by Blinded for Love, who won the Maryland Million Distaff three starts back.

Shawklit Mint drew the rail and gets apprentice John McKee. Shawklit Mint is 2-1-0 from three starts over the inner track.

Earlier on the card, Dutrow sends out Ebb n' Flow, in an entry-level allowance for juvenile fillies. Ebb n' Flow didn't earn a flashy speed figure in winning her maiden in a slow time at Delaware, but does not meet any standouts in this six-horse field.

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