04/19/2009 11:00PM

Even Raise is a win machine


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Gary Contessa was attending the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s 2-year-old auction on Monday. New York's leading trainer could only hope to find a horse with the desire that the 5-year-old Even Raise has.

Even Raise, a son of Stephen Got Even whom Contessa and his primary client, Winning Move Stable, purchased privately four months ago, brings a 12-for-19 record into Wednesday's featured first-level allowance race at Aqueduct.

Most 12-time winners would not be eligible for this allowance condition. But the conditions of the race exclude starter allowance races, which this horse has been competing in both at Calder and Aqueduct. And while theoretically this is a step up in class for Even Raise, Contessa said he believes he can handle it.

"He's got the heart of a warrior,'' Contessa said Monday by phone from Ocala, Fla. "I'd say two of the three or four times I ran him he looked like he wasn't going to win and he did. He's one of those that doesn't come along very often.''

Even Raise has 9 wins from his last 12 starts, including a neck victory in a starter allowance over the inner track on March 28. Contessa said the primary reason he is running Even Raise in this race is to keep him running around two turns, something that won't be available to him at Belmont Park, which opens on April 29.

"It's his last chance at two turns for a long time,'' Contessa said.

It's Even Raise's first chance at 1 1/8 miles, a distance Contessa believes "shouldn't be an issue.''

The prospect of a wet track should only aid Even Raise, who is 4 for 6 on wet surfaces. Even Raise is coupled with Stealth Missile, but Contessa said it's likely he will scratch Stealth Missile.

If that's the case, then the 5-year-old Even Raise's competition will be strictly 3-year-olds. American Dance, a son of A.P. Indy trained by Todd Pletcher, returns to Aqueduct, where he won a one-mile maiden race last Nov. 5 and finished third in the Grade 2 Remsen behind Old Fashioned and Atomic Rain.

In his only start this year, American Dance finished sixth behind stablemate Dunkirk in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream. Pletcher removes the blinkers from American Dance on Wednesday.

Valid Sum won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race by 6 1/2 lengths in his second start for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who said he believes the horse "wants to run all day.''

Mr. Again and Sure Start complete the field.