01/13/2009 12:00AM

Dutrow offers intriguing pair

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The two non-claiming races on Thursday's program are $43,000 sprints for 3-year-olds: a starter allowance that goes as race 8, and a maiden special weight carded as race 3.

In both races, Tony Dutrow-trained colts who showed promise in two starts last fall, and who worked five furlongs together in 1:02.20 last Friday, figure to make their presence felt: Ghost Story may go favored against five rivals in the starter allowance limited to maiden-claiming winners for $50,000 or less, and Woodacre will likely be second choice to Wildcat Brief in the maiden dash. Both will be ridden by meet-leading apprentice Sheldon Russell.

"He's got some good stuff," Dutrow said of Russell. "Potentially, he has the tools to go on and become a very good rider."

Woodacre, a son of Yes It's True, showed good early speed in two starts over Woodbine's Polytrack in November for Ian Black, and he has had four local workouts since changing hands.

"Woodacre is good," said Dutrow, whose first 25 starters at the winter session produced 16 exacta finishes. "If he runs like he trains, he'll be tough."

Woodacre is likely to contest the early pace with Wildcat Brief, who was bet to 5-2 for his debut in the mud on Dec. 27, and ran a clear second with a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 for Ben Perkins Jr.

The field includes several first-time starters: Sir John for George Weaver; Justifier for Tom Albertrani; and the Nick Zito-trained entry of Watch the Gap and Crazy Charlie.

Ghost Story, trained by Kathleen O'Connell, won his debut for $40,000 at Calder on Oct. 5, and his stock rose when the second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers returned to win their next starts. Ghost Story made his first start for Dutrow during the final week of Aqueduct's fall meet, and finished fourth as the 8-5 choice in a starter allowance won by Mike From Queens, who was subsequently third in the recent Count Fleet Stakes.

"I was disappointed in his last race, and I'm not going to hold that against him," said Dutrow. "I was impressed with his first race, but he didn't run like I thought he would. He's 'all there,' and I'm expecting a good race."

The field also includes four last-out maiden winners: Kanzel, Moose Man, Higher Place, and Wild Conga. Completing the field is Forty Third Recon, who comes off a fourth-place finish chasing Smokin Hero in a sloppy New York-bred allowance last week.