10/18/2004 11:00PM

Outside looking in

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Quiet Ruler, shown winning the 2003 Mohawk Handicap, will go for a three-peat Saturday - if he gets in.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Before Quiet Ruler can bid for a three-peat in Saturday's $150,000 Mohawk Handicap at Belmont Park, he first has to get into the race. Apparently, that's not as easy as it sounds.

Quiet Ruler was assigned only 113 pounds for the Mohawk, one of seven stakes races restricted to New York-breds on New York Showcase Day. Depending on how many horses weighted above him enter, and how many horses are permitted to start, Quiet Ruler could be excluded from the race.

With the rails down on the inner turf course, 12 horses will be permitted to start in the 1 1/8-mile race. If the rails are up nine feet from the hedge, only 10 will be permitted to start. Track superintendent Jerry Porcelli makes that decision. With Saturday being the second-to-last day of the meet, it is likely the rails will be down.

Still, there could be enough horses weighted above Quiet Ruler whose owners want to run to keep him out. Eight horses weighted above him - including Indian Card, who has never won on turf - are confirmed to start. There are others who could get in above Quiet Ruler whose trainers have not made a definite decision.

Quiet Ruler did catch a break when the connections of Provincetown, winner of the Ashley T. Cole, told the racing office Tuesday afternoon he would not run in the Mohawk. He was weighted at 118 pounds.

Quiet Ruler, a 6-year-old gelded son of Woodman, is winless in his last 10 starts since he won this race last year at odds of 20-1. He carried 113 pounds, dropping one pound from a 10-length loss in the Ashley T. Cole. Quiet Ruler also carried 113 pounds when he won this race in 2002 at odds of 45-1.

Quiet Ruler has made more money on turf ($384,953) than any horse in the field and has more gross earnings ($393,493) than any horse except No Parole. Total gross earnings would put Quiet Ruler into the race above any horse weighted equal to him.

Still, trainer Russell Mueller said he believes it's an injustice that he and his owners should have to sweat out whether Quiet Ruler gets into the race. Mueller said Quiet Ruler has been kept in training this fall purposely to run in the Mohawk. This would be the 50th and final start of Quiet Ruler's career on the flats. It is expected that he will sold to be a steeplechase horse.

"I think it's mind-boggling that he's probably not going to get in because of the weight for a horse that's won more money on the turf than any horse nominated," Mueller said. "That's like Lance Armstrong not getting in the Tour de France."

Racing secretary Mike Lakow, in consultation with stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, assign the weights. Lakow was in Texas on Tuesday and unavailable for comment. Byrnes believes the race was weighted fairly.

"He got beat [9 1/4 lengths] the last New York-bred race carrying 114 pounds, so it'd be tough to justify keeping him the same weight," Byrnes said of Quiet Ruler. "We have to weigh the race fairly based on its merits. I know he's a two-time winner, but we have to be fair to the other horses."

Galloping Grocer ready

Galloping Grocer, unbeaten in two starts, will be one of the featured runners on the New York Showcase Day card when he runs in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes for statebred juvenile colts and geldings.

On Monday, Galloping Grocer breezed six furlongs in 1:13.65 under Angel Cordero Jr., the agent for jockey John Velazquez, who rides Galloping Grocer.

"He started off slow and he finished real strong," trainer Dominick Schettino said. "He went excellent today."

Hacek to stay in California

Jockey Jorge Chavez is still searching for an agent. Harry "The Hat" Hacek said that he could not take Chavez's book as anticipated due to personal reasons. Hacek was scheduled to replace Gary Gullo, who announced Thursday that he is going back to training beginning in early November.

Hacek will remain in California, handling the book of David Cohen.