12/27/2004 12:00AM

Hydrogen live carryover play


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Following a nine-day holiday hiatus, racing returns to Aqueduct on Wednesday with a pick-six carryover of $37,112 and the $75,000 Gallant Fox Handicap at 1 5/8 miles over the inner track.

The Gallant Fox, which drew a field of nine, will go as race eight on the nine-race card and will be the penultimate leg of the pick six.

Trainer Bruce Levine has won four of the last six runnings of the Gallant Fox - three times with Coyote Lakes and once with Aavelord. On Wednesday, he'll send out Hydrogen, one of the few in the field proven at marathon distances.

, a 5-year-old son of Pleasant Colony, won the 2003 Valedictory Handicap going 1 3/4 miles at Woodbine. Though he is 0 for 5 this year, Hydrogen ran respectably in his last two outs. On Nov. 6, he stumbled at the start and closed strongly when second to loose-on-the-lead winner Unforgettable Max in the Shecky Green Stakes at Delaware Park. On Dec. 4, Hydrogen finished sixth, 4 3/4 lengths behind Classic Endeavor, another front-running winner, in the Queens County Handicap.

"I thought he ran pretty good; I thought he might have run a tick better, but I thought it was a good Queens County [field]," Levine said. "Speed was good, and nobody went with the winner, and it just compromised everybody from behind."

Mike Luzzi, who won this race twice with Coyote Lakes, rides Hydrogen from post 7.

, who finished 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Hydrogen when third in the Queens County, is the 118-pound highweight and the horse to beat in the Gallant Fox. John Velazquez, who has two wins and a second from four rides on Colita, will ride for trainer Todd Pletcher, who won this race in 1999 with Early Warning. Velazquez and Pletcher, the leading jockey and trainer, respectively, in New York, have combined to win 14 stakes here in 2004.

Levine admits that Colita "is probably a better horse" than Hydrogen, but added, "I'm hoping the distance compromises him and helps me."

There should be ample speed in the race with the likes of Salic Law, American Style, and New York Hero in the field.

, a 5-year-old Argentine-bred, has run well in distance races. He took a 10-furlong starter handicap Dec. 10, and in April won an allowance race at 1 3/16 miles over Aqueduct's inner track. Trainer Mitch Friedman is 2 for 6 over the inner track.