06/23/2004 12:00AM

Macaw can get first U.S. win

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ELMONT, N.Y. - It has been nearly two years since Macaw won a race. On Friday at Belmont Park, Macaw might have found the right spot to snap his 14-race losing streak and score his first win in this country in the third race on the twilight card.

, a winner of three races in England, is one of six grass runners entered in the optional claimer at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf. Roaring Fever was entered main-track only. Monkey Puzzle is the only horse in the field eligible to be claimed, for $75,000.

The $50,000 race represents a drop in class for the Barclay Tagg-trained Macaw, who butted heads with some of the country's best turf horses last year. On three occasions in 2003, Macaw finished second in graded stakes. At Saratoga, the gelding was the runner-up in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer. In October, Macaw was second in the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine. He ended the year with a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct.

In two starts in 2004, Macaw finished eighth in the Grade 3 MacDiarmida at Gulfstream Park and eighth in an allowance race at Belmont on June 5. The allowance race was run at seven furlongs, which was far too short for Macaw's closing style. Macaw closed from last in the 10-horse field and was beaten just four lengths.

Macaw gets in light with 113 pounds and apprentice Fernando Jara. Macaw drew post 4.

figures to receive plenty of play because of his connections: trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jerry Bailey. The 5-year-old is coming off a six-month layoff, and Mott does particularly well with runners who have been inactive. Thompson Rouge should be ready after a couple of long works he had on the turf at Saratoga in the last two weeks.

In his last start, Thompson Rouge finished sixth in the Grade 2 William McKnight at Calder on Dec. 27.

Both B. A. Way and Kon Tiki are coming off back-to-back wins in allowance races. Kon Tiki, trained by the meet's leading trainer, Todd Pletcher, held on for a nose win in a 1 3/8-mile race on May 26. B. A. Way stretches out for trainer Richard Violette after a pair of wins at 1 1/8 miles.

Chopper Won makes his first start since October and ran second here last year after a similar layoff. Monkey Puzzle's form took a nosedive late last summer, but his recent races have been good.