12/11/2007 12:00AM

Three strong entries in toss-up

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - Evening Attire enhanced his already lustrous resume winning Saturday's Queens County Handicap, and New York horseplayers would be hard-pressed to name another 9-year-old gelding who has earned as much respect - unless it's Spooky Mulder, the 31-time winner who long ago won over even the most hardened hearts.

But local fans hoping to see Spooky Mulder at Aqueduct for the first time since last winter may have to wait, because trainer Scott Lake was unsure about running him in Thursday's eighth race, a $57,000 optional claimer with second-level conditions at six furlongs.

"I thought it came up a little salty, plus the weather forecast is pretty bad, so he's probably not shipping up," said Lake.

Salty is the operative word. The field includes a trio of formidable entries: Missile Motor and Debussy for trainer Gary Contessa; I Ain't No Saint and Santa's Gold for David Jacobson; and My Cousin Matt and Serious Fever for Tony Dutrow.

A forecast for a wintry mix of precipitation could be tailor-made for Missile Motor, who ran freakishly fast on a muddy main track at the fall meet, wiring a $50,000 sprint with a 111 Beyer Speed Figure.

I Ain't No Saint was idle for eight weeks after being claimed from a turf route at Saratoga, and responded with the two fastest races of his career in dirt sprints during the fall, each on tracks containing moisture, the latest a near-miss in the Maria's Mon Stakes.

My Cousin Matt, who turns 9 on Jan. 1, turned in a bullet workout last week in preparation for his 55th career start. He has won three straight starts dating back 12 months, and is listed to wear an aluminum pad.

"He's notorious for foot trouble," Dutrow said. "He's training good in it, and he's doing well, so I'm not going to [mess] with it."

Also entered are Man Above; Introspect, this year's Hollie Hughes winner; Hemingway's Key, who ran third in last year's Preakness and Jim Dandy; and the speedy Blue Bullet.

* Throng, who contested the pace in graded stakes earlier this year, was shipped to New York recently by Todd Pletcher, and the 4-year-old looms the one to catch in race 3.