12/17/2003 12:00AM

Like Magic should set pace


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Mark Shuman and owner Michael Gill are off to a terrible start at Aqueduct's inner-track meet, with only one winner from 18 starters through Wednesday's card.

Like Magic could be the horse to change Shuman and Gill's fortunes in Friday's feature. The second-level allowance for fillies and mares is a wide-open six-furlong race. Like Magic is among 11 horses in the field, including the entry of Bel Baie and Lavender Lass.

Like Magic makes her East Coast debut after racing in California for her first 15 starts. Gill claimed the 4-year-old for $50,000 out of an optional claimer on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. Like Magic finished fourth in that race, tiring after setting the pace through a half-mile in 44.79 seconds. It was Like Magic's first race since January, and she figures to be tighter in her second start off the layoff.

Jose Espinoza rides Like Magic, the likely pacesetter, from post 8.

Feather Boa is another in the field with speed. A daughter of Saint Ballado, Feather Boa won a first-level allowance race in the mud as the favorite on Nov. 20 at Aqueduct. Feather Boa, who is trained by Todd Pletcher, set the pace and drew off to a 5 1/4-length win in the six-furlong race. If the track is wet, Feather Boa's chances improve.

Richard Migliore, who leads the standings at the inner-track meet, rides Feather Boa from post 9.

Trainer Bruce Levine, who has an excellent record with horses coming off layoffs, entered Jester Rahab, who hasn't run since Dec. 27, 2002. The 4-year-old Jester Rahab loves the inner track, where she is 3 for 5. Jester Rahab has a steady pattern of works, including a bullet six-furlong move in 1:15 on Dec. 10.

Jester Rahab appears to be a better horse going longer, and Friday's race probably will set her up for a bigger effort in her second start back.

Mike Luzzi rides Jester Rahab, who drew post 2.

Tudor Court won back-to-back races over the inner track earlier this year. She hasn't raced since Aug. 27 at Saratoga, when she was sixth in a claiming race. Tudor Court was claimed for $35,000 that day and makes her first start for trainer Scott Lake on Friday.

Anita Cocktail has won her last two starts, both in claiming races. Trainer Gary Contessa claimed the mare from Richard Dutrow Jr. for $30,000 on Nov. 4 and ran her back for $45,000 on Nov. 22. She won that six-furlong race by five lengths.