01/23/2007 12:00AM

Lucky Gamble on right track


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It's a routine Thursday at Aqueduct in winter, but true racing fans will still find plenty to interest them.

Race 3 is a starter handicap restricted to those who ran for $14,000 in the last three years, but it may still take a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure to win. Golden Man, Lucky Gamble, and Sir Gallant have run 98 or better recently, and deep closer Letters rolled past $50,000 sprinters with a 96 two back.

Though he never was a factor in the Grade 3 Gravesend Handicap off a layoff, Lucky Gamble is easily the most accomplished inner-track performer among the 73 horses on the card. Before chasing Grade 1 stakes winner Bishop Court Hill in the Gravesend, Lucky Gamble had won 5 of 8 starts on the inner. The Gravesend snapped a three-race win streak since he was claimed by trainer Bruce Levine last June.

"I might not have done enough with him before the Gravesend," said Levine. "He's in a good spot Thursday - I'm sure he's my best shot."

Levine also runs the Stronach Stable homebred Miss Gadsby in race 2, a maiden special weight for older fillies and mares at a mile. Miss Gadsby makes her first local start after two races on Woodbine's Polytrack in November. It could be noteworthy that Woodbine has a two-tiered maiden special weight program, and Miss Gadsby ran at the lower level.

"They run for about half the money," Levine said. "It's probably equivalent to about $35,000 or $50,000 maiden claiming."

Levine's third starter comes in race 9, when Mr. Malaprop, a two-time winner on the inner last winter, returns from a layoff in a wide-open allowance/optional claimer for New York-breds at 1 1/16 miles.

"There's not a whole lot of speed, so he should be on the engine or close to it," said Levine.

The field of 10 includes Lethal Missile, Drizzly, and Prince of Peace, who could've been covered by a blanket at the wire when they last met Jan. 6.

Prince of Peace, a Stallion Series winner last spring, had a brutal trip and was still only beaten two lengths. "He got stopped at the three-eighths pole; coming to the quarter pole he started to make another run; then a horse came over on him and he had to snatch up," said trainer Mike Miceli.

Race 8, a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds, pits Serious Fever, a half-brother to $1 million earner Freefourinternet, against Just Wild, an impressive maiden winner last out, and a full brother to Grade 1-placed Wild Snitch.