04/11/2002 12:00AM

Snow Ridge and Dream Run to battle in Carter

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - Two strong supporting stakes, the $350,000 Carter Handicap and the $150,000 Bay Shore, act as bookends to Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

The Grade 3 Bay Shore, the seventh race, is the lead-in to the Wood Memorial. The Grade 1 Carter follows the main event.

A competitive field of 11 entered the seven-furlong Carter. The main players are Snow Ridge, the 120-pound highweight; Affirmed Success, an 8-year-old closing in on $2 million in earnings; and Dream Run, who owns two sharp wins at the Carter distance this year.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas seeks his fifth Carter victory with Snow Ridge, a 4-year-old who has blossomed into an excellent sprinter and is undefeated in three starts in graded stakes at Santa Anita this year. In January, Snow Ridge beat last year's sprint champion, Squirtle Squirt, in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes. Snow Ridge covered the six furlongs in a scorching 1:07.70 on a wet track and earned the top Beyer Speed Figure (117) among the country's sprinters this year. Snow Ridge, a front-runner, returned in his next start and won the Grade 1 San Carlos.

"He certainly has found himself," Lukas said. "Last year, he would run one nice race and come back with an inconsistent race. Mentally he was a little bit behind. He ran some very fast fractions when he beat Squirtle Squirt and kept going. Let's hope he has the same affinity for Aqueduct as he does for Santa Anita."

Mike Smith, aboard for each of Snow Ridge's wins this year, has the mount from post 7.

With Snow Ridge, Rusty Spur, and Run Kush Run in the field, a sizzling pace is almost certain. This delights Dream Run's trainer, Paul McGee. Dream Run came from off the pace to win an optional claimer and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup in Florida this year.

"I think his last two races were his best," McGee said. "This is no easy race, but our horse is coming into it the right way."

Affirmed Success, second in the 1999 Carter and third in 2000, holds the home court advantage. Among his Big A wins are the Grade 1 Cigar Mile and Toboggan.

"He loves this racetrack," Affirmed Success's trainer, Richard Schosberg, said. "His running style now is to relax a bit early and with a lot pace on paper, it's good to have a horse like that here."

Burning Roma, third behind Dream Run in the Gulfstream Breeders' Cup in his 2002 debut, should move forward off that effort.

Say Florida Sandy, last year's New York-bred Horse of the Year, is in a tough spot for his 2002 debut. Peeping Tom, the 2001 Carter winner, doesn't have the same form he did a year ago.

Nashua duo returns in Bay Shore

Ten 3-year-olds entered the seven-furlong Bay Shore, including Listen Here and Monthir, the winner and runner-up of last year's Nashua at Aqueduct.

Monthir cuts back in distance after finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Florida Derby. Monthir's best efforts have come around one turn, including his runner-up finish in the Hutcheson in February.

"I really think he wants to be a come-from-behind sprinter," Monthir's trainer, Mark Hennig, said. "He's one of those horses who can probably stretch out at one turn, so we can look at races like the Withers and Peter Pan."

Last year, West Coast shipper Skip to the Stone won the Bay Shore, and now Roman Dancer has a solid chance of making it two in a row for Californians.

Roman Dancer, a New York-bred, won the 6 1/2-furlong San Pedro by 3 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita on March 23.