11/05/2001 1:00AM

Miesque's Approval tough in Pilgrim

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - There aren't many turf stakes on the New York Racing Association calendar that trainer Bill Mott hasn't won. But Tuesday's $75,000-added Pilgrim at Aqueduct has been a stumbling block for the Hall of Fame trainer.

Mott has finished second in the past two runnings of the Pilgrim, a 2-year-old grass race, with King Cugat and then Baptize, two horses whose Pilgrim losses can be forgiven as they have gone on to earn more than $1.7 million between them.

This year, Mott has the probable Pilgrim favorite in Miesque's Approval.

The 1 1/8-mile Pilgrim, the feature on a special Election Day card, drew 10 runners, including one main-track only horse. The Pilgrim lost its graded status and took a $25,000 purse hit this year.

Miesque's Approval, a Live Oak Plantation homebred, has finished no worse than third in four career starts. The colt won a maiden race by four lengths in his second start during the summer at Saratoga and then returned to finish second, beaten a neck, in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine on Sept. 9. In his last race on Oct. 11 at Belmont, Miesque's Approval won a first-level allowance by one length over Getiton, who returned to finish third as the heavy favorite in a maiden race here Thursday.

Mott said he thought Miesque's Approval's margin of victory should have been greater in his last start, but still thinks he has a quality runner on his hands.

"He has already given us cause to dream a little," Mott said.

Jerry Bailey rides Miesque's Approval from post 2.

Trainer Todd Pletcher entered three horses who are uncoupled in the wagering. Hunter Cruise and Finality are winners on the turf for Pletcher. Nokoma is a main-track only entry.

Hunter Cruise won a small stakes on the grass at Monmouth in September before turning in a dismal effort on the dirt in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile. Finality was an easy winner of a New York-bred maiden grass race early in October, before finishing fifth in the Sleepy Hollow on the dirt two weeks ago.

"Both horses are definitely better on turf, and a mile and an eighth shouldn't be a problem," Pletcher said. "With Finality, I was limited with my options."

John Velazquez, a winner of the last three Pilgrims, rides Hunter Cruise. Javier Castellano rides Finality and the mount is open on Nokoma.

Robbie's Rockin, second to Fina-lity in his last start, also was entered in a maiden race Sunday, but will run in the Pilgrim.