11/10/2004 1:00AM

Pud looks live vs. First Blush


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - No matter what the calendar tells us, by the looks of Friday's card at Aqueduct, winter can't be too far off in New York.

There are four maiden races - two for New York-breds, one for claimers, and an open race. The other five races are not particularly compelling, either.

The feature is an optional claimer for male sprinters who appear to be past their prime. Six horses were entered in the six-furlong race. Each runner, with the exception of One N Three, is eligible to be claimed for $75,000.

could be the favorite, as he was in his last start at Belmont Park on Oct. 22. First Blush set the pace and was caught late by Wheaton's Aly, who beat him by a nose.

Trained by Allen Jerkens, First Blush might have company on the front end from Pud and Take Achance on Me.

Eibar Coa rides First Blush, who drew post 2.

looks like the horse to beat. After pressing the pace in his last start on Oct. 8, Pud finished fourth while making his first start since Aug. 25. Dominick Schettino, whose stable is winning at 24 percent this year, claimed Pud that day for $65,000.

With the race under his belt, Pud figures to be tighter for Friday's assignment and has had a solid work between races. Victor Carrero rides Pud from post 3.

Gracious Humor was at the top of his game earlier in the year. The gelding seeks his first win for trainer Scott Lake, who claimed him for $65,000 in August at Saratoga. Gracious Humor finished fourth in his last start, the same race First Blush exits.

For Love and Honor, who is 1 for 14 at Aqueduct, hasn't won a race in nearly a year. New York-bred One N Three, who hasn't run in more than a year, completes the field.

In the fifth race, Strategy and Provincial, two well-bred fillies from Shug McGaughey's barn, are coupled in the wagering with John Velazquez named on both, which means only one can start in the second-level allowance race.

Eye Dazzler, a graded-placed runner, lost as the favorite at this level in her last start, but may have needed the race, her first since February.

Adriatic Sea was cross-entered in the $60,000-added Soaring Softly here Thursday. Leedle Dee also was entered in Thursday's eighth race at The Meadowlands, where she is the morning-line favorite.