02/24/2003 12:00AM

At long last, In High Gear is healthy


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It has been nearly two years since In High Gear debuted with a neck victory over Warners in a hot maiden race at Belmont Park. Unfortunately, that win - and the 104 Beyer Speed Figure that went with it - remains the highlight of his career.

Beset by injuries, In High Gear will try to start anew Wednesday in a $36,000 entry-level allowance that serves as the feature on a 10-race Gulfstream Park card.

In High Gear had an ascended testicle removed after his debut and then was diagnosed with a stifle problem that sidelined him for nine months. After finishing fifth as the odds-on choice in an entry-level allowance at Fair Grounds, In High Gear ran two strong races at Belmont, but was hindered by a nasty habit of drifting out.

Last July, trainer Richard Dutrow sent In High Gear to the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic in Lexington, Ky., where he was diagnosed with tiny fractures in a front leg. Surgery was not needed, so Dutrow just gave In High Gear time off.

Dutrow has been impressed with the way In High Gear has been training at Palm Meadows and expects a big effort on Wednesday.

"If he runs like he's training, he should be all right,'' Dutrow said. "He's got all the talent you need, but it's always been something not right. He certainly hasn't shown any signs of not being 100 percent lately.''

In High Gear, who breaks from the rail under John Velazquez, will have to be cranked to win this 5 1/2-furlong race because he figures to face pressure from Lord De Ville, Test of Time, and possibly Super Duper Kid.

That could set things up nicely for Mike's Classic. Like In High Gear, Mike's Classic has been limited to just four starts as he begins his 4-year-old campaign.

After losing both of his starts at 2, Mike's Classic was diagnosed as lame and given time off. He did not return to trainer Allen Jerkens's barn until last fall. After finishing second behind repeat winner Be Like Mike on Jan. 24, Mike's Classic came back to win his maiden by a length on Feb. 12. In that race, Mike's Classic came from just off the pace, a style that would serve him well Wednesday.

Subway Series is in with an upset chance. He registered a 94 Beyer Speed Figure when he finished second at this level on Jan. 4. He came back 16 days later, encountered trouble and finished fifth as the even-money choice. Leading rider Eibar Coa has the call.

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