02/18/2009 12:00AM

Maiden duo live in Big A feature

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It's a sign of the season when the most interesting horses in Aqueduct's featured allowance race Friday are two maidens that haven't run in several months. So it goes at the seemingly endless inner-track meet, which has six weeks remaining.

The Jimmy Jerkens-trained, Ed Evans owned-entry of Tax Man and Elusive Gift would most likely be favored in a maiden race. And if Jerkens has his druthers, Tax Man, a half-brother to graded stakes winner Charitable Man, will end up in a maiden race around two turns this weekend.

However, both Tax Man and Elusive Gift have run races that make them competitive in Friday's six-furlong feature, which is for those who have not won two races. There is also an optional claiming provision under which horses can be offered for $35,000.

Tax Man ran three times over the inner track last winter with his second-place finish in a one-mile race his best finish. Jerkens explained that Tax Man had a chip taken out of a knee, which is why the son of Broad Brush has been away from the races since last March. Richard Migliore is scheduled to ride if Tax Man runs.

Elusive Gift is a son of Elusive Quality out of Christmas Gift, who won multiple graded stakes on the turf. He is a half-brother to Christmas Kid, who won stakes on dirt, turf and synthetics.

Elusive Gift debuted last March 22 on dirt. He reared at the start and was off last, and later brushed with another horse at the top of the stretch. He lost by 13 1/2 lengths. Jerkens put him on turf where he ran modestly well in three subsequent starts.

"He's been training real good,'' Jerkens said. "I sure wish he was in against maidens.''

Sheldon Russell will ride Elusive Gift.

Noble Lad, a $1.4 million 2-year-old in training purchase by Darley Stable, needed to go to Laurel to win a maiden race last month. Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, acknowledged seeking an easier spot for the son of Officer, but added, "he acts like he's stepped it up. We're hopeful.''

Gimmearoutine is a four-time winner, while Laysh Laysh Laysh has done his best running over the inner track and comes out of a tougher race. Both horses are in for the claiming tag.

Pewter faced far better the last time he was in at this level, which came last October. He finished eighth when he caught a muddy track over the inner track in December. Hi Daddy, Run With Me, and Southern Spirit fill out the field.