09/28/2004 11:00PM

Eddington drops to score

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Eddington has rarely run a poor race while facing the top 3-year-olds in the nation this season. Those efforts have produced several in-the-money finishes but no stakes wins.

, who has not won since an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in February, finds an easier spot Friday night in the Grade 3, $300,000 Pegasus Stakes at The Meadowlands Racetrack.

The Pegasus is the opening-night feature as the Big M opens a 33-day meet that runs through Nov. 13. First post Friday will be 7:30 p.m.

Nine others were entered in the 1 1/8 mile-race, including a trio from trainer Todd Pletcher: Illinois Derby winner Pollard's Vision, Navesink River, and Tales of Glory.

Eddington has had a demanding year. After leaving Florida, he ran third in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and the Grade 1 Wood Memorial.

He lacked enough graded-stakes earnings to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. But ran third in the Preakness and fourth in the Belmont Stakes.

Eddington returned to action at Saratoga, finishing third in the Jim Dandy (disqualified to fourth) and the Grade 1 Travers.

"He has been one of the most consistent 3-year-olds," said trainer Mark Hennig. "Some have run spotty but he always shows up. Unfortunately, he's usually third."

For that reason, Eddington lands in this spot instead of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Saturday.

"Obviously, getting a win at this point is important," said Hennig. "His last two starts were good efforts in difficult spots. This was the spot to try for a win. Hopefully, we'll get a better result on the drop down."

Of the Pletcher trio, Pollard's Vision has the best stakes resume. In addition to the Grade 2 Illinois Derby, Pollard's Vision also won the Grade 3 Leonard Richards Stakes at Delaware Park. He ran second in his last two outings, the Pennsylvania and West Virginia derbies.

also was entered in Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby Saturday at Hoosier Park.

Iowa Derby winner Swingforthefences is a deep closer who might be compromised by the Big M's traditional speed bias.