03/12/2007 11:00PM

Statebreds vie in high-end claimer

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A record total of 770 New York-bred races, roughly 30 percent of the betting menu, were run on the New York Racing Association circuit last year, with a consistently expanding array of conditions.

Here's yet another new one - a high-end claiming race. Race 3 on Thursday is a claiming race restricted to older New York-bred males, with a top price of $100,000 and a bottom of $75,000, believed to be the first of its kind.

Ferocious Won, Papua, and Johnie Bye Night - second, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the recent Hollie Hughes Handicap at six furlongs - all stretch out in this two-turn mile that offers a $51,000 purse. Any of them can be claimed for $100,000.

Meniscus and Mr. Malaprop were entered for $75,000, and carry two pounds less than the others.

Ferocious Won, at age 4 the youngster in the five-horse field, won the Mike Lee at Belmont and the New York Derby last summer, both times catching a wet track, so the forecast for showers on Thursday could work in his favor. He comes off a sharp try in the Hollie Hughes, where his late rally fell short by a head.

Papua, 8, won the Hollie Hughes three straight years (2003-05), and missed a fourth when beaten two lengths in that race in his last start.

Papua has been primarily a sprinter in a 46-race career in which he has earned nearly $650,000, but he did win a starter allowance at a mile and 70 yards at Aqueduct on Dec. 5, his seventh victory on the inner track.

Johnie Bye Night has tried two turns only once, scoring a front-running win in the $50,000 Wadsworth Memorial Handicap at Finger Lakes last June. A lightly raced 5-year-old with 6 wins from 11 starts, Johnie Bye Night breaks from the rail and might be the one to catch.

The two allowance races on the card also are restricted to New York-breds.

Race 5 is a one-mile optional claimer with second-level conditions and figures to be a good test for Aristo, a homebred filly from Gallagher's Stud. Trained by Michael Dickinson, she won her maiden and first-level conditions impressively near the turn of the year.

Aristo probably will have to catch Hoosick Falls and Lady Elaine, then brace for a late challenge from Fuego Grande.

Race 8, a six-furlong first-level allowance for 3-year-olds, features a rematch between Market Psychology and Indian Camp, who finished less than a length apart in a race at Saratoga last summer.