03/14/2003 1:00AM

Snake Mountain favored in Stymie


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Snake Mountain, the 123-pound highweight and winner of his last four starts - three in Aqueduct stakes - will be the favorite in Sunday's $75,000-added Stymie Handicap at Aqueduct.

The 1 1/8-mile Stymie was postponed on March 8 because of poor track conditions.

Ground Storm, who was not entered when the Stymie was drawn initially, is now in the seven-horse field. The delay in running the Stymie allowed Ground Storm, who won the race last year, to recover from a quarter crack and work a half-mile on Thursday at Belmont Park.

"He missed about four or five days" of training, said Leana Willaford, an assistant to Ground Storm's trainer, Bill Mott. "It's hard to maintain their feet in this weather because of the hard and frozen ground. We waited for the quarter crack to cool out and then patched it."

Javier Castellano rides Ground Storm, who drew post 5.

Jimmy Jerkens, Snake Mountain's trainer and co-owner, didn't anticipate that the postponement would affect his 5-year-old gelding's performance in the Stymie.

"With another week we were able to work him again," Jerkens said. "It's not like he needed the time because he has been running well every four to five weeks. Now there's more time than that between starts, but I don't think it's a big deal."

Snake Mountain last ran on Jan. 18 when he won the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap by 7 1/2 lengths under a hand ride.

Mike Luzzi rides Snake Mountain from post 3.

Jerkens also entered Iron Chancellor, who is coupled in the wagering with Snake Mountain. Iron Chancellor also was entered at Laurel Park in Saturday's $75,000-added Harrison E. Johnson Memorial.

Trainer Scott Schwartz was delighted that the Stymie was postponed because it meant that Classic Endeavor, who looms the main speed, had the chance to draw an inside post. Classic Endeavor drew post 6 initially and got the rail this time.

Classic Endeavor has won his last three starts in allowance races on the inner track. On Feb. 2, he was a four-length winner in a tough classified allowance field that included Ground Storm and Coyote Lakes. Classic Endeavor earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 109.

"The [delay] is a little more beneficial for us because it now gives him six weeks to recover from a very good race," Schwartz said.

Also entered is the entry of My Man Ryan and Tom's Thunder. Country Only completes the field.

Gotham prospects on undercard

Gotham nominees Parnell Square, Atfirst Blush, Awesome Time, and Fund of Funds will run in another spot on Sunday's card, the fifth race.

The $55,000 allowance race drew six 3-year-olds and will be contested at a mile around two turns.

Jerkens will saddle Parnell Square, will be tough to beat after winning two route races by comfortable margins.

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