12/27/2006 1:00AM

Ferocious Fires tries to keep 2006 perfect


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The New York-bred Ferocious Fires will look to complete a well-managed and undefeated 3-year-old campaign on Friday when he heads a seven-horse field entered in a $48,000 third-level allowance race at Aqueduct.

The six-furlong race also carries an optional claiming tag of $75,000 for which three of the horses are eligible, including the gritty Spooky Mulder.

This will be only the second time that Ferocious Fires has faced open company. Two starts back, on Sept. 30 at Belmont Park, Ferocious Fires won a first-level allowance race by a neck over Mister Supremo. He came back six weeks later to win the Mr. Leader Stakes, a six-furlong race restricted to horses who had not won a stakes, by a half-length.

Ferocious Fires, a 3-year-old son of Lite the Fuse, has not been out since that Nov. 11 race as trainer Tony Dutrow has resisted the temptation of running him in open-company stakes while trying to get the horse into this conditioned race. Dutrow is a high-percentage trainer, in large part because of his realistic placement of his stock.

"Is Ferocious Fires this good? Let's see," Dutrow said Wednesday. "Is he better than this? That's not realistic to state. He's wonderful; God bless him, he's just a pleasure to be around. I'm just trying to do what I can to help him develop into as good as he can be."

This will most certainly be the deepest group Ferocious Fires has met.

After giving an uncharacteristic non-effort in the Grade 3 Gravesend Handicap, Spooky Mulder drops into the same condition that he won at on Nov. 19. He was claimed for $75,000 that day by Bruce Golden and Scott Lake. Steven Krebs has been running Lake's horses while Lake serves a suspension.

Spooky Mulder figures to show good speed from the rail under Eibar Coa.

Pavo skipped an allowance condition last time to win a third-level allowance race by four lengths on Dec. 8. He has worked well twice in the interim and recorded 2 of his 5 career victories over the inner track.

"These horses are fast," Dutrow said of the competition. "Pavo, that sucker was all there last time he ran."

Wild Nature, trained by Dutrow's brother Richard, has failed three times at this condition since winning a second-level allowance race at Belmont on July 15. Wild Nature was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Spooky Mulder over the inner track on Nov. 19.

Ojibway, Scary Bob, and Elements complete the field.