12/23/2007 12:00AM

S.S. Belle wants loose lead

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - Though S.S. Belle was taking her second consecutive class drop, trainer Bruce Levine saw little risk in claiming her for $10,000 two months ago.

"She was dropping, she had speed, we were going to the inner [track], I didn't think I could get hurt for that kind of money," said Levine, who took S.S. Belle for owner Michael Repole.

S.S. Belle romped to a 14 1/2-length victory that day and on Thursday, Levine will get his first chance to run S.S. Belle when the 4-year-old filly runs in a $53,000 starter allowance race that serves as the featured event on a nine-race card at Aqueduct. A field of nine was entered for the six-furlong race for fillies and mares who have run for a tag of $50,000 or less.

S.S. Belle's victory in that Oct. 24 race over Aqueduct's main track was her first win since March 25 when she won a $25,000 claiming race by 10 1/2 lengths over the inner track. In both races, S.S. Belle was able to control the pace.

"When she gets loose, she's kind of alright," said Levine, who will have Eibar Coa in the irons from post 2.

Southern Sass, drawn to S.S. Belle's outside, has shown speed in her last two starts and appears to be the one horse that could put a crimp into S.S. Belle's front-running plans.

The horse to beat in this starter allowance is probably My Fair El, a 3-year-old daughter of Three Wonders who is coming off a second-place finish against similar on Nov. 17. The winner of that race, Mulligatawny, came back to win a first-level allowance, her third straight win.

My Fair El, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., won for $40,000 maiden claiming at Saratoga in the summer, then finished last in the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland. Mike Luzzi rides from post 6.

A potential value play may be Expiration Day, who makes her second start off a layoff for trainer Mitch Friedman. Expiration Day is 3 for 20 lifetime, but all 3 wins have come over the inner track.

In her most recent start, Expiration Day finished sixth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths in a $45,000 claiming race, her first start since May 18.

"She only worked three times, I wanted to give her a race and get to the next one," Friedman said. "This is the next one. I thought she'd get beat 20 lengths. She tries, no matter what, she gives you effort every time."

Jermaine Bridgmohan rides Expiration Day from post 8.

Come Fly Away and In for a Dime are other contenders in this field.