03/11/2005 1:00AM

Razorback has distinct Florida flavor

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Purge returns to Oaklawn on Saturday. He was second to Smarty Jones in last year's Rebel.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - It could be a stakes at Gulfstream Park.

No less than three of the 10 horses entered in Oaklawn Park's Grade 3, $125,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sunday have shipped in from south Florida, led by Grade 2 winner Purge.

A 1 1/16-mile race, the Razorback is a prep for the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 9.

is the 116-pound starting highweight in the Razorback, with his Gulfstream counterparts, Added Edge and The Lady's Groom, also ranking as top contenders. They will be joined in the starting gate by Gigawatt, who ships in from Fair Grounds for trainer Steve Flint, and a nice cast of locals led by the Cole Norman-trained duo of Absent Friend, winner of the Grade 3, $100,000 Essex Handicap, and Intelligent Male, winner of the $145,000 Claiming Crown Jewel.

"The two grays," Norman said of his charges, who race for separate interests and will be uncoupled Sunday.

Purge arrived at Oaklawn on Wednesday and has made a favorable impression during morning training hours. He will be cutting back in distance after finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Handicap at Gulfstream, a 1 1/8-mile race run Jan. 8. In his final work for the Razorback, he went five furlongs in 59 seconds at Palm Meadows training center in Florida.

"The Razorback at a mile and a sixteenth is a good spot to try to get him back on track, especially since he ran well at Oaklawn last year in the Rebel," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Purge.

Purge was favored in last year's Rebel and finished second to Smarty Jones, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Purge developed into a first-rate horse as well and won the Grade 2 Peter Pan and Grade 2 Jim Dandy last year in impressive fashion.

His class would seem tough to tackle Sunday, and he will be ridden by Robby Albarado.

was fourth in the Hal's Hope, then ran second in an optional claiming race at Gulfstream won by Sir Shackleton. Added Edge earned a 101 Beyer Figure, the highest last-out Beyer in the Razorback. Luis Quinonez has the mount for trainer Dale Romans.

was fourth in the same optional claimer as Added Edge. Calvin Borel has the mount for trainer Michael Gorham.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch