10/22/2005 12:00AM

Friendly Island takes Hudson again


ELMONT, N.Y. - Friendly Island showed no ill effects from an 11-month layoff as, for the second consecutive year, he sped away to a front-running victory in the $125,000 for New York-breds at Belmont Park on Saturday.

Breaking from the outside post under John Velazquez, Friendly Island dueled three wide outside of Introspect and Karakorum Patriot through an opening quarter in 21.80 seconds. After Karakorum Patriot gave way, Friendly Island hooked up with Introspect for the remainder of the race, with Friendly Island finally edging clear from a stubborn Introspect late to win by a half-length.

It was 2 1/4 lengths back to Papua, who for the second straight year finished third in this race. Clever Electrician, second as the 6-5 choice in last year's Hudson, finished fifth as the 7-5 favorite this year.

Friendly Island, a son of Crafty Friend owned by the Anstu Stables of Anita and Stuart Sobotnick, covered the six furlongs in 1:10.35 over a sloppy track and returned $8.60.

Friendly Island was making his first start since undergoing surgery to remove a chip from his knee following a seventh-place finish in last year's Fall Highweight. Since Friendly Island had won his career debut by 17 1/4 lengths last year, trainer Todd Pletcher opted to forego a prep and run him fresh in the Hudson.

"We looked at the calendar a couple of months ago and thought it was going to be too close to get a prep race into him and circled this," Pletcher said.

Billy Turner, the trainer of Introspect, was pleased with his horse's gutsy effort.

"The horse just keeps getting better," he said. "We knew he'd run well today."