09/14/2004 12:00AM

Fortune Writers still playing catch-up

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Very little separated Fortune Writers and Kicken Kris when the two faced each other three times last year.

While Kicken Kris has developed into one of the nation's top turf horses - he was awarded first place in the Grade 1 Arlington Million - Fortune Writers is still trying to prove his worth. Fortune Writers seems to have found a relatively soft spot to continue his development when he heads a seven-horse field entered in a second-level allowance race going 1 1/4 miles Thursday over Belmont Park's inner turf.

returned from an eight-month layoff to win an entry-level allowance race at Saratoga by 1 3/4 lengths Aug. 9. The third-place finisher from that race, Capital Peak, came back to win his next start at Saratoga.

Trainer Jimmy Toner said he wasn't thrilled with the idea of running Fortune Writers 11 furlongs in his first start off such a long layoff, but the colt responded with a strong off-the-pace performance.

"He's a classy horse. He's a nice, quality horse,'' Toner said. "Any time you have a quality horse you have a little more confidence going into a spot like that. His class carried him through it and I'm looking forward to Thursday.''

A year ago, Fortune Writers won his maiden during Saratoga then was placed immediately into graded stakes company where he finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Kicken Kris in the Lawrence Realization Handicap. Toner then shipped Fortune Writers to California for the Hollywood Derby. Though Fortune Writers finished last of 13, he was beaten only 4 1/2 lengths.

During the winter in south Florida, Toner did not like the way Fortune Writers was training so he gave him 60 days off and decided to start from scratch, precipitating his nine-month absence from the races.

The versatile running style of Fortune Writers should pay off in a race without much speed. , who romped to 5 3/4-length entry-level allowance win the last time he raced at Belmont, is the major threat. Rayon was beaten just two lengths by Dynamite Flyer at Saratoga first time at this allowance condition.

picks up John Velazquez and is the main speed.