07/06/2005 12:00AM

'Tiger' returns at a mile


ELMONT, N.Y. - For a two-week period last July, Eye of the Tiger was developing into a useful horse in the handicap division.

But as quickly as he emerged was as quickly as Eye of the Tiger vanished. After myriad minor issues kept him away from the races, Eye of the Tiger is set to return Friday in a $58,000 classified allowance race at Belmont Park going one mile.

, who finished fifth in the 2003 Kentucky Derby when trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, was moved to Kiaran McLaughlin's barn by owner John Gunther in the spring of 2004. After finishing third in the Grade 1 Carter and seventh in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, Eye of the Tiger won a third-level allowance race by 3 1/4 lengths last July 16 at Belmont.

With Jerry Bailey up, Eye of the Tiger ran a mile in 1:35.60 for a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 110. Fifteen days later, Eye of the Tiger won the Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington. This is his first start since then.

"Nothing major, just little things. He wasn't going quite right," McLaughlin said about the layoff. "Things have been going really well the last few weeks. I wish he had another work or two in him, but it's time to get started."

Eye of the Tiger has four interesting challengers in this race. Sinister G, who won the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes as a 3-year-old, has shown signs of life recently. After returning East from an unsuccessful stint in Southern California with trainer Jeff Mullins, Sinister G has won 2 of 3 starts for owner-trainer John Toscano, an allowance at Philadelphia Park and a minor stakes at Finger Lakes. He also ran third in the Frisk Me Now Stakes at Monmouth.

With scattered thunderstorms forecast on Friday, the possibility of an off track exists. Wet conditions would suit the speedy Rogue Agent, whose last three victories have come on sloppy or muddy tracks.

has the speed to keep Rogue Agent honest but is suspect beyond six furlongs.

won the Grade 2 Sapling in the slop as a 2-year-old, and won an optional claiming race in the mud at Aqueduct in March. He, too, is questionable at a mile.