02/17/2004 12:00AM

Mott looms as spoiler once again

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Record Tide was clear on the lead and appeared home free at midstretch in a second-level allowance race here on Jan. 24, but was run down late by trainer Bill Mott's lightly raced but talented Key Deputy.

Record Tide returns under similar conditions in Thursday's $36,000 six-furlong allowance feature, and again it may be a member of Mott's barn, this time the enigmatic Draw Fire, who will look to play the spoiler.

has cycled around to the best form of his career since shipping to south Florida for the winter. A son of Montbrook trained by Stanley Hough, Record Tide won a first-level optional claiming/allowance dash at Calder by 9 1/2 lengths before dropping that heartbreaking decision to Key Deputy four weeks later. The victory was the third in the the last four starts for Key Deputy, whose only loss during that span was to recent Deputy Minister Handicap winner Alke.

Record Tide continues to train brilliantly at Palm Meadows, where he worked a bullet five furlongs in 59 seconds on Feb. 10, the fastest of 32 works at the distance. The work tab that day included Well Fancied, winner of Monday's Grade 2 General George at Laurel, and Limehouse, winner of Saturday's Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes.

Edgar Prado retains the mount for Hough, who owns Record Tide in partnership with John Pastorek.

is not as consistent or talented as stablemate Key Deputy, but he may be as fast, and has shown flashes of brilliance over the past 13 months. Although he was not brilliant in his last start, when running off and setting lightning fast early fractions before stopping to a walk trying to stretch out around two turns for only the second time in his career.

Draw Fire did show an ability to rate and pick up horses when he rallied from fifth to defeat Admiralty Arch and win his entry-level allowance condition last summer at Saratoga.

Dizzi Mister Rizzi is the biggest question mark in Thursday's feature, having gone to the sidelines for more than seven months after reeling off three consecutive one-sided victories at Calder. Trained by Steve DiMauro, Dizzi Mister Rizzi will faced decidedly tougher competition on Thursday than in the past, and might need a race despite working steadily for his return.

Truman's Raider takes the blinkers off and reunites with jockey Pat Day for the first time since the pair combined for a second-place finish in an allowance at the 2002 Churchill Downs spring meeting. Truman's Raider, graded stakes-placed at 2 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, is now trained by former Lukas assistant Mike Maker.