01/16/2003 1:00AM

This time, bettors get two for one


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Jimmy Jerkens isn't sure what the outcome of Saturday's $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap will be if Voodoo has the lead in midstretch and Snake Mountain is the one trying to run him down.

"Snake Mountain is pretty relentless,'' said Jerkens, the trainer of both 5-year-old horses. "But, Voodoo, when he has the lead, he'll fight a lot harder than he will if he has to run one down. You'd have to be awful lucky to have it come to that.''

For handicappers, the coupling of Voodoo and Snake Mountain takes the guesswork - and the fun - out of figuring it out for themselves. Since Jerkens owns part of Snake Mountain, the horses must run as a coupled entry. (New York Racing Association officials admit they erred allowing Snake Mountain and Open Sesame to run uncoupled in the Nov. 5 Stuyvesant Handicap.)

The Jerkens-trained entry figures to go off at even money or shorter in the 84th running of the Aqueduct Handicap, run at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track. Ground Storm and Tempest Fugit, the second- and third-place finishers behind Evening Attire in last year's Aqueduct, head the list of horses trying to upset the Jerkens's horses. Cat's at Home, My Man Ryan, and Mr. Determined round out the field.

Snake Mountain, the 120-pound highweight, enters the Aqueduct having won his last three outings, including the Stuyvesant and Queens County handicaps, both Grade 3 races. He is cutting back in distance from 1 3/16 miles, but Jerkens isn't worried about that.

"He's been laying close without much problem the last couple of races,'' Jerkens said.

Voodoo, who will break from the rail under Richard Migliore, could be the one to catch. Voodoo comes off a front-running, 11 1/4-length victory in a one-turn mile allowance race over the main track on Nov. 29. Voodoo has shown even more speed since adding blinkers four starts back. On Aug. 3, he beat Aldebaran gate to wire in a seven-furlong race at Saratoga.

"If he can lead a quick field of horses like he beat at Saratoga going seven-eighths of a mile, he certainly should have an easy lead, I would think, going two turns here,'' Jerkens said.

If either Jerkens horse fails to fire, then Ground Storm is the most likely winner. Ground Storm comes off a solid two-length victory in a classified allowance race on Dec. 18, his fourth win from five starts over the inner track.

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