03/06/2007 12:00AM

Lucky Gamble one to beat

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The nine older sprinters entered in Aqueduct's eighth race on Thursday have more than $3.2 million in earnings, so the winner will have to do some serious running to take down the lion's share of the $49,000 purse.

"That three-other-than optional claimer for $75,000 has come up a tough race all winter long," said trainer Tony Dutrow, who named jockey Ramon Dominguez on both Suave Jazz and Dashboard Drummer, meaning one of the two will be scratched.

"Every time it comes up, it's great race."

Suave Jazz, 4, is the youngest member of a field that also includes Kazoo, who won last year's Toboggan at age 8, and New York Hero, who won the Grade 2 Lane's End as a 3-year-old in 2003.

Suave Jazz has won both of his starts at the winter meet, and 5 of 7 starts overall since Dutrow equipped him with blinkers last June. Dashboard Drummer is a newcomer to the stable, claimed for $55,000 from his first and only start this season.

"They're both such nice horses, I didn't want to run them against each other," said Dutrow. "I think if everything's perfect, I'll run Dashboard Drummer. He's been training well."

Last July, Dashboard Drummer ran third to Silver Wagon, subsequent winner of the Grade 3 Sport Page in November and the Grade 2 General George last month. When Dashboard Drummer returned from a three-month layoff for his first start at age 6, Dutrow reached in.

"He looked like a very fast horse who was worth the money - a useful, consistent horse with lots of class," he said.

Whether it's Suave Jazz or Dashboard Drummer who starts, the one they must beat is Lucky Gamble, a leather-tough 6-year-old who has won 10 of his 23 starts at six furlongs. That total includes 4 wins from 5 starts since he was claimed for $35,000 last June by Bruce Levine.

A six-time winner on the inner track, Lucky Gamble comes off a hard-fought victory over Sir Gallant in a starter handicap back on Jan.o25.

"That horse never laid down, he never went away," said Levine, who has given Lucky Gamble six weeks to recover from that effort.

Horseplayers expecting Lucky Gamble to bounce might want to reconsider.

"He'll run his 'A' race, he's doing well," Levine said.

The field also includes the stakes-placed Euro Code, the speedy Southern Missile, and a pair of deep closers in Super Fuse and Letters.