02/02/2004 1:00AM

Matsui gets to swing for home run


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The 3-year-old named after New York Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui has Godzilla-like shoes to fill if he is going to be as successful as his namesake, but the gelding is already off to a promising start.

Sunday at Aqueduct, Matsui earned his second win from three starts. He is trained by Derek Ryan, who co-owns the horse with Ronnie and Bernie Masone and Barbara Kurtin. Ryan said Matsui now will be pointed to the $75,000 Best Turn Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 21.

Last April, Ryan saw that a half-brother to a stakes-winning filly he had once trained, Mooji Moo, was for sale at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's 2-year-old in training sale. Ryan and his partners bought the son of Double Honor, whom they named Matsui, for $12,000.

"I really didn't think I would get him for such small money," said Ryan, who is based at Philadelphia Park. "I thought he would go for $50,000 and I would have given $20,000. He was a late-May foal and needed a little more maturing, so after we bought him I turned him out for a while."

The day of the OBS sale, Ryan was perusing the New York Post and came across a pull-out poster of Hideki Matsui, who came from Japan to play his first season with the Yankees last season and is nicknamed Godzilla.

"I figured, you've got a good horse, you've got to give him a good name," Ryan said.

On Dec. 26 at Philadelphia Park, Matsui set the pace and won his career debut by eight lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong race. He returned in an allowance race on Jan. 18 at Laurel Park and finished fourth, beaten four lengths. Ryan said Matsui bled that day and that he had lost some training time because of bad weather.

Sunday, Matsui, who was racing with Lasix for the first time, set the pace and powered away to a 2 3/4-length win over the favorite, Crafty Player. Matsui's time for the six-furlong allowance race was 1:11.54 and he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 80. He returned $14.60.

"I expected him to win," Ryan said. "He is a very, very fast horse. I have big plans for him."

Pedersen pair may pass Whirlaway

Trainer Jennifer Pedersen nominated Redskin Warrior and Risky Trick to Saturday's $75,000 Whirlaway Stakes but might not run either of the 3-year-olds.

Pedersen reported that Redskin Warrior, an impressive-looking winner of back-to-back races last fall, would not run because he spiked a fever. Risky Trick, who finished second in both the Count Fleet and Fred "Cappy" Capossela in his last two starts, might run in a first-level allowance race on Thursday instead of the Whirlaway.

Monday, Pedersen was still pumped by Lord ofthe Thunder's three-length win in a conditioned allowance at a mile and 70 yards the day before. It was Lord ofthe Thunder's first win since the Kings Point last May.

"I loved him [Sunday]," said Pedersen, who also ran New York Hero, the third-place finisher in the same race. "I nominated Lord ofthe Thunder to the Hollie Hughes, but it's probably too short and too close."

The $75,000 Hollie Hughes, a six-furlong race restricted to New York-breds, is on Feb. 15.

Sinister G works with blinkers

Sinister G turned in his final work for the Whirlaway at Belmont Park on Monday. With exercise rider Louie Chiari in the saddle, Sinister G covered four furlongs in 48.52 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.90. Sinister G was equipped with blinkers for the work, but will not wear them in the 1 1/16-mile Whirlaway.

"This is the first time we put blinkers on him" said John Toscano III, Sinister G's co-owner. "Everybody said it would help him focus more, but after coming off such a big race last time, he won't run with them."

Sinister G, who is trained by Toscano's father, John Jr., won a first-level allowance by 5 3/4 lengths at Aqueduct on Jan. 17.

The field for the Whirlaway is also expected to include Quick Action, Jaglander, Christian Anthony, Little Matth Man, and Fine Strike.

Jaglander worked five furlongs in 1:01.86 on Monday at Aqueduct.

Dutrow has three more live runners

It seems like the only thing stopping trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. from winning a race every day at Aqueduct is the track's scheduled dark days on Monday and Tuesday. When racing returns Wednesday, Dutrow, who holds a commanding lead with 31 winners at the inner-track meet, sends out three live runners on the card: Account for Me in the fifth race; My Man George in the seventh; and Make My Day Jur in the eighth.

Make My Day Jur is among nine older males entered in the feature, a third-level allowance race at a mile and 70 yards.

Make My Day Jur, the likely favorite, is seeking his fourth consecutive win. The biggest threat to Make My Day Jur could come from Kissin Saint, who ran well in his first start since September when he finished third at this condition on Jan. 18.

Graded stakes winner Max Forever, who won his maiden over the inner track last year, has been training well for his first race since finishing last in the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 1.