12/12/2001 1:00AM

Paynes Bay finds niche going long


ELMONT, N.Y. - Paynes Bay, a $1.6 million yearling purchase, dominated a first-level allowance field in his initial start around two turns at Aqueduct last month.

Now Paynes Bay, a well-bred son of Mr. Prospector, makes his inner-track debut in Friday's eighth race and is the horse to beat if he duplicates his last effort.

Eleven 3-year-olds and older horses entered the second-level allowance race, which will be run at 1 1/16 miles and is the feature of the nine-race card.

After losses in four sprint starts, Paynes Boy won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Belmont Park in September for owners Eugene and Laura Melnyk. Two starts later on Nov. 3, Paynes Boy stretched out to two turns and was allowed to set a leisurely pace, which propelled him to a 2 3/4-length win.

According to his connections, Paynes Bay, a 3-year-old making his eighth start on Friday, is a late-bloomer who figured to get better when he stretched out.

John Hassett, an assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, said Paynes Bay started only once at 2 because he was extremely immature.

"There was no point going on with him when he was 2 even though we knew he had talent," Hassett. "Mentally he was very immature. He has matured a lot and has settled. He's also a stone-cold two-turn horse."

Edgar Prado rides Paynes Bay, who again figures to be prominent in the early going from post 4.

Expect a solid effort from Been West, who has run some decent races over the inner track. Earlier this year Been West, a 4-year-old son of West by West, won a 1 1/16-mile allowance race by six lengths over the Big A's winterized track. He also produced a pair of second-places finishes over the surface.

Been West, trained by Dominic Galluscio, should benefit from his Nov. 17 race, when he finished a good fifth at this level in his first start since July 8. Been West, a closer who needs a sharp early pace, has been working well. Richard Migliore rides from post 3.

Liquid Icon and Quiet One, both owned by Sandy Goldfarb, are coupled in the wagering. Liquid Icon, trained by Leah Gyarmati, makes his second start off a three-month layoff and is a two-time winner over the inner track. Entrymate Quiet One, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., probably prefers the grass.

Barrage, a $500,000 yearling purchase, put an end to a losing streak that dated back to December 1999 with a win here at mile Nov. 15.

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