03/04/2004 1:00AM

Loving has been liking the inner track


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - With Evening Attire and Snake Mountain not running, and Rogue Agent injured, Saturday's $75,000-added Stymie Handicap at Aqueduct has come up light.

, a winner of his last two starts over the inner track, is the 118-pound highweight and likely favorite. Eight were entered in the 1 1/8-mile Stymie, the final stakes at the inner-track meet.

Loving won the 1 5/8-mile Gallant Fox by 7 3/4 lengths on Dec. 27. He got up in time to win by a neck in his next start, an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles. The runner-up in that race was Lord Ofthe Thunder, who is entered in the Stymie.

"The longer he goes, the better," said Richard Dutrow Jr., Loving's trainer. "His last race was very strong, and we're going to take another shot on the inner course because he likes it."

Jose Espinoza rides Loving from post 5.

Dutrow, the meet's leading trainer by a wide margin, also entered , who is not coupled in the wagering with his stablemate. Dutrow said Big Sid's Party was too far back in the early running of his last start when he finished second behind the five-length winner, New York Hero, in an allowance race on Feb. 13.

"We weren't going to win the race for sure, but the jock had him too far [back] and I don't know why," Dutrow said.

Dutrow has replaced Pablo Fragoso with Julian Pimentel aboard Big Sid's Party. Both of Dutrow's runners can handle an off track, and rain is in the forecast.

Ground Storm, the 2002 Stymie winner, has run his best races on the inner track and is coming off a winning effort at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18 for trainer Bill Mott.

Javier Castellano rides Ground Storm, who has tactical speed and drew post 7.

Unlike several others in the field, Lord Ofthe Thunder hasn't cracked a 100 Beyer Speed Figure, but he came close last year when he won the restricted Kings Point and earned a 99 Beyer. The 5-year-old is extremely consistent and has strong connections on his side in trainer Jennifer Pedersen and jockey Richard Migliore. Paraneck Stable, the leading owner at the meet with $633,703 in earnings, owns Lord Ofthe Thunder.

"My horse is at the top of his game right now," Pedersen said.

Classic Endeavor was in top form when he finished second in last year's Stymie, but hasn't been as good this year.

Levendis, Nothing Flat, and Kissin Saint, who gets blinkers on, complete the field.