04/21/2010 12:00AM

Half Metal Jacket a fine fit


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - If the majority of allowance races at Belmont Park come up as competitive as Friday's third-level allowance feature at Aqueduct, then the New York Racing Association's decision to scrap its overnight stakes program will prove ingenious.

Friday's seven-furlong race drew a terrific field of 10, seven of whom finished first or second in their most recent start. Four of the 10 are in for the optional claiming price of $75,000, including Half Metal Jacket, who may offer some value despite his 3-for-3 record at Aqueduct and 2-for-2 mark at seven furlongs.

Chip Dutrow claimed Half Metal Jacket for $60,000 on April 1 on behalf of Michael Dubb and Michael Caruso's Bethlehem Stables. Dutrow had tried to claim the horse 11 months earlier, but lost a two-way shake with David Jacobson. Since March 2009, Half Metal Jacket has 6 wins and 4 seconds from 10 starts. His only loss in his last four outs came to Goldsville, who has since come back to win the Grade 3 Excelsior.

"The horse is a class act," Dutrow said. "He's done nothing wrong, I'm glad to have him. I don't see why he wouldn't run good again."

In addition to his record at Aqueduct and the distance, Half Metal Jacket should get a solid pace in front of him. Brady Baby, Be Bullish, and Roaring Lion all do their best running on the front end.

A fast pace could also benefit Smiley Pete, who is sent out by Chip's brother, Tony Dutrow. Smiley Pete won his last two starts of 2009 before finishing second to a loose-on-the-lead National Pride over the inner track in January. Tony Dutrow said he has had trouble finding a spot since for Smiley Pete, which is why he hasn't raced in three months.

Dutrow said he prefers to keep Smiley Pete around two turns, but "at least I get to run him."

Tizway has made his last three starts in Grade 1 company, finishing third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last October before finishing 12th in the Japan Cup Dirt. This will be his first start since Dec. 6, though trainer James Bond feels he got a good foundation under the horse at Palm Meadows during the winter.

"He's fit enough, hopefully he's sharp enough," Bond said.

Roaring Lion and The Roundhouse make up a complementary entry for owner Mike Repole. Roaring Lion does his best running from on the pace, while The Roundhouse should be flying late.