06/17/2001 11:00PM

Stake Runner's stock rising


ELMONT, N.Y. - A stakes win looks like it's in the cards for Stake Runner, who has picked up checks in the two stakes he has run in this year. But for the moment, Richard Dutrow Jr., the leading trainer at the Belmont Park meet, is keeping Stake Runner among allowance runners.

Stake Runner, who hasn't finished worse than third in seven starts, is the one to catch when he meets five others in Wednesday's $47,000 sixth race. The race for 3-year-olds and older horses carries the conditions of nonwinners of three races other-than or four races lifetime.

Stake Runner, a front-runner, breaks from the rail in the 6 1/2-furlong race under the meet's leading rider, John Velazquez, who rode four winners Sunday and also captured Saturday's Vagrancy aboard Dat You Miz Blue.

Dutrow showed his confidence in Stake Runner from the beginning.

In Stake Runner's third start and his first following a flashy maiden win in the slop, Dutrow ran him in the ungraded Best Turn over Aqueduct's inner track in February. Dutrow's 3-year-old finished a credible second, beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Put It Back, who continues to prove himself as a top 3-year-old sprinter, especially after his latest win in the Riva Ridge on Belmont Stakes Day.

In the Hirsch Jacobs at Pimlico on May 12, Stake Runner found himself in an unfamiliar spot - sitting off the early leaders - and finished third as the favorite behind City Zip, who would have been one of the Riva Ridge favorites had he not been scratched.

In his last start, Stake Runner set an uncontested pace to win a third-level allowance in the mud by three lengths at Belmont on June 2. Among those he defeated were Port Herman, the favorite, and Natural, both of whom are entered here.

Stake Runner, 2 for 2 over wet surfaces, also won a first-level allowance by 5 1/4 lengths in the spring at Aqueduct over a track labeled fast.

Fistfite, the only other 3-year-old in the field, finished third on May 23 in his first race since

March 10. Fistfite was beaten 10 lengths in the slop by Put It Back after chasing that rival during the early stages of the seven-furlong race.

Edgar Prado picks up the mount on Fistfite, who figures to press Stake Runner early from post 4.

Panner, who would benefit from a hotly contested pace, and Rich in Glory, making his second start off a layoff, complete the field.