10/17/2007 11:00PM

Hudson: Gold and Roses seeks repeat

EmailELMONT, N.Y. - Gold and Roses was at the top of his game when he ran down the open graded stakes winner Sharp Humor to win the 2006 Hudson Handicap. But entering Saturday's 30th running of the Hudson, Gold and Roses doesn't appear to be quite as sharp.

That could leave him vulnerable against the likes of Stormin Normandy, Ferocious Fires, and Monster Drive in the $125,000 Hudson.

Gold and Roses has run only four times this year, with a front-running victory in the John A. Morrissey Handicap at Saratoga his only win. He found the mile of the General Douglas MacArthur Handicap too far and the company of the James Moseley Handicap at Suffolk Downs too tough.

In the six-furlong Hudson, Gold and Roses will be returning to New York-bred company. With a plethora of speed in the field, Gold and Roses will likely revert back to the stalking style that helped him win last year's Hudson.

"I always thought his best race was just off of it," trainer Tom Bush said. "We won the Morrissey at Saratoga on the lead because there wasn't much else in there. I like him in a stalking position. . . . There's a lot of speed in that race."

Some of the speed will be supplied by the Bush-trained Posted, who comes off a fourth-place finish in a second-level allowance race. Bush said that his decision to have Cornelio Velasquez take a hold of Posted in that race was a mistake, and that the gelded son of Gone West will likely return to his front-running ways in the Hudson.

Stormin Normandy, a 3-year-old, could be the main speed from the rail. Stormin Normandy has run twice for Richard Dutrow Jr., rolling to a 6 3/4-length victory in a maiden race at Belmont in June and a 9 1/2-length victory in a first-level allowance here on Sept. 26. In that race, he never felt the leather of Velasquez's whip.

"Both starts, I couldn't be more impressed with him," Dutrow said. "He never gave us that impression that he was going to run like he has."

Dutrow had to make a jockey change to Rafael Bejarano because he was considering running Stormin Normandy in the Empire Classic before changing his mind late. Velasquez is committed to ride Posted in the Hudson.

"If our horse breaks with the field, we are the horse to beat," Dutrow said. "I've seen Gold and Roses run and he hasn't looked as impressive to me."

The Hudson could mark the return of Ferocious Fires, who is undefeated in five starts but who has not run since taking the Mr. Leader Stakes last November. He suffered a tear in a suspensory ligament in his hind ankle. Trainer Tony Dutrow said he wanted to evaluate the field before committing to run.

"It's a big race. It's against New York-breds. Ferocious Fires is a capable horse," Dutrow said. "I'm keeping an open mind."

Monster Drive, trained by Bill Mott, is a potential upsetter if able to run back to his six-furlong allowance win at Saratoga in July. I'm a Numbers Guy, Introspect, Long Lost Pal, and Executive Search complete the field.