12/09/2004 1:00AM

Ebony Breeze gets pace setup


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - An injury to Sugar Punch eliminated what would have been an intriguing matchup in Saturday's Garland of Roses Handicap between fillies owned by New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and his manager, Joe Torre.

But with Torre's Sugar Punch on the disabled list with a knee chip, , owned by Steinbrenner, should have an easier time of it in the $75,000 Garland of Roses, run at six furlongs over Aqueduct's inner track. Not only is Sugar Punch absent, but Ebony Breeze should get the contested pace she needs with Cologny and Forest Music in the field.

Ebony Breeze, trained by Bill Mott, won the Grade 3 Endine Handicap at Delaware Park in September, but she is coming off subpar performances in her last two starts. In the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom, Ebony Breeze bobbled at the break and was last for the opening half-mile before rallying to be fourth behind Lady Tak.

Ebony Breeze ran back in the Witches Brew on turf at The Meadowland and finished fifth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths. Her connections felt that was a good effort for Ebony Breeze and were pleased with her most recent half-mile workout in 48.93 seconds.

"She did it all in hand," said Arthur Tsiamis, Mott's assistant. "I can't say anything bad about the way she's doing. She'll be coming."

Ebony Breeze will break from the rail under Mike Luzzi and carry high weight of 121 pounds.

Cologny and Forest Music will battle it out on the front end. Cologny, who exactly one year ago won here for a $14,000 claiming price, has enjoyed a sensational year with 7 wins from 14 starts. Claimed for $25,000 by Scott Lake in February, Cologny has earned $236,790 for him and owner Evan Gewirtz.

Following a seven-week freshening, Cologny responded with a 7 1/2-length score in the Montclair State University Stakes at The Meadowlands.

Lake, who is 5 for 12 at the inner-track meet, said his instructions to jockey Aaron Gryder will be to make the lead, but that "if something happens where we come away slow, she's won from the off pace."

Trainer Mark Shuman has often said Forest Music could be rated. But he has finally relented.

"She can't and we have no plans to right now," Shuman said.