02/07/2007 1:00AM

Jazil, Corinthian meet again

Bill Denver/Equiphotos
Jazil, in training at Palm Meadows, returned to the races in an Aqueduct.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Corinthian and Jazil, who met twice on the Kentucky Derby trail last winter, will renew acquaintances at Gulfstream Park on Thursday in the second and decidedly stronger division of a second level optional claiming race. The 1 1/8-mile mile co-features each offer a purse of $48,000.

Corinthian defeated Jazil in both previous encounters, the first under entry-level allowance conditions and the second in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, a race in which Corinthian was disqualified from first and placed third for taking an erratic path and causing interference through the stretch.

Corinthian has started just once since suffering a hairline fracture of his left hind ankle in the Fountain of Youth, finishing third under second-level allowance conditions at Saratoga on July 29. A son of Pulpit, Corinthian has been training steadily for his return at Palm Meadows since December for trainer James Jerkens.

Jazil bounced back from his seventh-place finish in the Fountain of Youth to be second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and fourth in the Kentucky Derby before rallying from last to win the Belmont Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths. Jazil got an extended vacation after the Belmont due to bruising of a hind cannon bone, finally returning to finish second behind wire to-wire winner Take the Bluff under allowance conditions at Aqueduct on Jan. 5. That start that may give him an edge over Corinthian in this match-up.

"He ran very well the first time back over the speed-favoring inner track where it’s tough for a horse with his running style," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He’s done very well since, although unfortunately speed seems to do pretty well here too. I think he’ll move forward off his last race and while we won’t alter his running style to fit the racetrack, he should be a little closer to the pace simply because the competition is a little easier than he’d been meeting for most of last year."

Joining Corinthian and Jazil in the second division will be the multiple graded stakes placed Doc Cheney, who was upset as the 2-5 favorite returning from a three-month hiatus at Calder on Jan. 1, and the 2005 Queens Plate runner-up King of Jazz.

The multiple stakes placed Angelic Aura and consistent Champ Safi top a field of seven in the opening division. Angelic Aura finished second in the Coyote Lakes and Kelso Stakes during the fall. Champ Safi was a tiring third under allowance conditions here opening day of the current meet.