02/18/2004 12:00AM

To find winner, pick four or more


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Competitive fields and a steady supply of longshots have made this a winter of discontent for chalk players at Aqueduct's inner-track meet, and things don't get much easier in the first leg of Friday's pick four.

The sequence begins with the sixth, a $54,000 classified allowance and optional claimer where six graded-stakes-seasoned older males go 1 1/16 miles. Seemingly any among Loving, Judge's Case, Lord Ofthe Thunder, Resolve, Abreeze, or Classic Endeavor could win on his best effort.

, idle since springing a 19-1 upset in the 1 5/8-mile Gallant Fox Handicap nearly two months ago, and Judge's Case, who looked in need of his first race back from a layoff when fifth behind some of these three weeks ago, are coupled due to common ownership. They are trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. and Steve Klesaris, respectively. Loving appears to be the stronger half, but he has been best at 10 furlongs and beyond.

received a perfect setup when he outkicked Classic Endeavor and Judge's Case in their Feb. 1 clash, lagging 17 lengths off the leaders while his entrymate, New York Hero, forced a torrid pace. Forecasting Friday's pace is problematic, because the two early players, Abreeze and Resolve, are hard to gauge.

Abreeze, claimed by Scott Lake for a cool $100,000 last summer, won back-to-back starts at this level at the turn of the year. But last out in the Aqueduct Handicap, he never made the lead and finished far behind subsequent Donn runner-up Seattle Fitz.

Resolve cost his current connections $100,000 back in the fall of 2002. He won off a short layoff in his local debut last winter for trainer Bruce Levine, but has not started in 363 days, since a fifth-place finish in the 2003 General George Handicap.

"He was sore in behind and pulled a muscle, so we just gave him the time he needed," said Levine, who saddled three winners Sunday and Monday to solidify his hold on second place in the standings with 18 wins. He added that he would have preferred to bring Resolve back at seven furlongs.