03/05/2005 1:00AM

Hydrogen gets up by nose


Saving ground on both turns as a slow pace developed, Hydrogen unleashed a powerful late rally to win the Stymie Handicap by a nose over odds-on favorite Aggadan at Aqueduct on Saturday.

The program scratches of Rogue Agent and Salic Law reduced the field to five and left Halo Malone as the lone early speed in the $75,000-added route. Halo Malone was able to set comfortable fractions of 24.54 seconds, 49.52, and 1:14.38 while saving ground.

Halo Malone remained in front to midstretch after a mile in 1:38.76, but was swarmed and succumbed to the late runners. Hydrogen split rivals and darted back to the inside beneath Richard Migliore and nipped Aggadan, the 122-pound highweight, who had been caught three wide on both turns. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to third-place finisher Song of the Sword, who ran well in his first start at 4, and the same margin back to Country Be Gold in fourth. Halo Malone faded to last.

"I ran out of options because the pace was so slow and I was in the pocket," said Migliore. "I was just hoping for a little wiggle room. He showed a great deal of heart."

Hydrogen, trained by Bruce Levine, paid $9.60 as the second choice. He ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.82 on a fast inner-dirt track to win his first start as a 6-year-old, earning $48,570 for owner Earle I. Mack.

"I'm glad I gave this horse time after the Gallant Fox," Levine said. "It has been my experience that that race dulls horses.

"I thought he might have been discouraged where he was," he added. "They were going slow. If you try to rate him too much, that could take the run out of him. I'll probably give him another month off."