10/06/2002 11:00PM

Levine tries to extend hot streak


ELMONT, N.Y. - Inactive the last three racing days, trainer Bruce Levine looks to continue his two-week hot streak Wednesday with a pair of runners, including Ms. Rapunzel in the featured eighth race, a second-level allowance race on the Widener Turf Course.

After going 2 for 32 at Saratoga, Levine is now challenging for the Belmont fall trainer title. His eight wins trail only Richard Dutrow Jr. and Todd Pletcher, who are tied for the meet lead with 10 wins apiece. In the last two weeks, Levine has saddled six winners from 13 starters.

"I don't really point for that meet," Levine said of Saratoga. "They didn't run bad, things just didn't fall right. Right now, everything's just falling into place."

With only two wins and seven seconds from 14 starts, things haven't frequently fallen into place for Ms. Rapunzel.

But her two best Beyer Speed Figures have come in one-mile races on the Widener Turf Course. In June, Ms. Rapunzel took advantage of a quick pace to win an entry-level allowance race here. On Sept. 12, Ms. Rapunzel encountered some trouble after breaking from post 2, and her outside rally fell three-quarters of a length short.

"She got shuffled back in the race," Levine said. "They came over on her and [Aaron Gryder] took back and fell four or five out of it and gave up a lot of position. She really ran a big race."

Breaking from the outside post in the six-horse field here, Ms. Rapunzel should get a cleaner trip under Gryder.

"She'll probably be laying second," said Levine, who anticipates Royal Banquet will set the pace.

The horse Levine fears is Title Nine, who drops into allowance company after finishing seventh in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs Handicap at The Meadowlands on Sept. 6. Before that she had won two consecutive races, including a victory over Sightseek in a Saratoga allowance race.

"She ran a bad race at The Meadowlands; it was a disappointing performance," said Title Nine's trainer, Christophe Clement, who didn't offer an excuse. "Her form was consistent until them. My filly's doing great, but Bruce Levine is a scary man at the moment."

Allen Jerkens brings Ready back off a layoff. A Polish Numbers filly, Ready is only 1 for 11 this year, but is a must-use in the exotics.

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