03/12/2004 1:00AM

Six of seven in Pelleteri look familiar


NEW ORLEANS - Haven't we already seen this race? Seven horses were entered Friday in Sunday's $125,000 Pelleteri Breeders' Cup Handicap, and all but one ran three weeks ago in the Taylor's Special Handicap.

The top six finishers from the Taylor's Special are back for the Pelleteri, joined by the apparently overmatched invader . Out of My Way, upset winner of the Taylor's Special, had been scheduled to pass the Pelleteri, but his connections in the end found the spot too attractive to miss.

"He's doing awfully well, and he worked awful good the other day," said Greg Geier, Out of My Way's trainer. "If he wouldn't have worked like that - no way."

might have mastered these rivals last out, but he was 28-1 that start and is unlikely to be favored Sunday. Cat Genius and Aloha Bold - second and third in the Taylor's Special - are more likely to be the bettors' choices. Aloha Bold won the Colonel Power here Jan. 11 and has taken four of eight starts over this surface. Three weeks ago, Aloha Bold loomed up turning for home but ran evenly in the stretch.

was more impressive, setting a very fast early pace and running on gamely to miss by a nose.

"He did something there I'd never seen him do - he dug in," said trainer Tom Amoss. "He was collared, passed, and he came back."

The question now is whether that difficult race will sap Cat Genius for this start. He and jockey Robby Albarado - named to ride because Calvin Borel is away - have drawn the rail, and from there, the speedy Cat Genius must go straight to the front.

Out of My Way, Aloha Bold, and Captain Thunder should stalk the pace, and somewhere farther back will come Mountain General, the Pelleteri's X-factor. Mountain General finished second to the top-class sprinter Beau's Town in last year's Pelleteri, one of several good efforts during a strong season, but in the Taylor's Special, his first race since August, Mountain General was a flat seventh.

Mountain General looked heavy coming into the Taylor's Special. If there is any merit to that observation, Mountain General has a right to move far forward in this start, and trainer Steve Asmussen has worked Mountain General twice between races.

Still, the Pelleteri is tough to figure. Dallas Stewart, Captain Thunder's trainer, put it well: "For $125,000, you've got to try it, right."