02/28/2005 1:00AM

Rhumjar poised to break through

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Rhumjar, his confidence and health restored, will be tough to hold off in the $46,000 allowance feature for New York-breds Wednesday afternoon at Aqueduct.

Shaun Bridgmohan has a return call on Rhumjar in Wednesday's 1 1/8-mile race.

A confirmed closer, Rhumjar spotted the field 11 lengths in his last start before launching a rally that carried him to a narrow lead in midstretch. He dug in gamely to hold on for second, losing by a half-length to Napoleon Solo.

"I thought Shaun Bridgmohan did a great job riding him," trainer Tim Hills said from Florida. "This should be a good spot. A mile and an eighth on the inner track is far enough so that even if speed is holding, he can still make a run."

faces six statebred rivals in the two-other-than allowance. He has a record of 2-1-2 in six runs over the inner track.

Hills once thought Rhumjar would develop into a closing sprinter. He now feels the future lies in two-turn contests.

Rhumjar has been a project. He missed more than a year while recovering from knee surgery. Rhumjar returned to action last June and has yet to win in 10 starts since. He was also compromised by some breathing problems in the fall.

"He went in and out of form with some bleeding episodes," said Hills.

Down the road, Hills would like to see Rhumjar on the turf after he exhausts his New York-bred conditions. As for the immediate task, the main competition figures to come from Honour Thy Country, Golden Blaise, Tomorrows Banquet, and Hunter's Tale.

comes off consecutive wins. A 4-year-old gelding, Honour Thy Country won his maiden in early January at Aqueduct and came right back for a statebred allowance win. Honour Thy Country earned a 77 Beyer Speed Figure for the maiden win and a 76 for the allowance. Leading rider Rafael Bejarano has the mount.

also found his career-best form recently with two wins, a second, and a third in his last four outings.

Tomorrows Banquet should not be left off any exotic tickets with his six straight in-the-money finishes.

Hunter's Tale is less consistent but looms a contender following a 5 1/4-length win two starts back. He bounced badly off the victory, beaten 14 lengths. A rebound makes him a threat.