01/05/2010 12:00AM

Montecore just needs clean break


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Divisions of a $42,000 first-level allowance at six furlongs, one for males and one for females, highlight Aqueduct's Thursday program.

Montecore will be favored in race 8, for males. A grandson of Storm Cat, he showed promise during the first half of 2009 by winning maiden and allowance sprints by a combined 15 lengths and running second in an overnight stakes.

Montecore returned from a layoff to win his second-level condition against New York-breds in late November, and then finished fourth against open company after stumbling at the start on a speed-favoring track Dec. 12.

"Unfortunately, the poor break last time cost him," said trainer Steve Klesaris. "We're happy with the way he's coming up to this, and hopefully he can get it done."

Jess Not Jesse, Gridiron, and Ramblingamblinman, a trio of 4-year-olds returning from layoffs, have all turned in at least one bullet workout recently.

Jess Not Jesse has been away since a runner-up finish in the Count Fleet last January. He developed a foot abscess after the Count Fleet, followed by "clean-up" surgery on both ankles, said trainer Linda Rice.

"The combination of things made it quite an extended layoff, but he's training very well," said Rice, referring to three straight best-of-morning works. "It looks like a decent spot, though it might be a little short for him."

Gridiron, trained by John Terranova, had two starts at Belmont last spring, beginning with a debut victory from well off the pace. He is coupled with Cannon, who won first time out at the Meadowlands last month. Channing Hill is named on both, so only one will start.

Ramblingamblinman was purchased and turned over to Rick Dutrow Jr. after a big-figure maiden win at Oaklawn Park last spring. He makes his first start since May, and two of his four works over the inner track in December were bullets.

Also entered are the David Jacobson-trained entry of Have You Ever and Great Emperor, and Buddy's Song, a Bruce Levine-trained colt who was placed first in a maiden sprint last time out.

The Mitch Friedman-trained entry of Spina and Kissa Melissa head the filly division in race 3. Other contenders include Purrfect Bluff, Meese Rocks, Rock Hall Honey, and Ouchy Night, all of whom are coming off a victory.