04/19/2005 12:00AM

Tough customers square off

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The six older males entered in Thursday's eighth race have combined for 51 wins and well over $1 million in earnings, so as third-level allowance races go, this one came up pretty tough.

Bailero, My Kind of Town, Country Judge, and Potrisunrise are offered for the optional claiming price of $75,000 in the one-mile feature. Philanthropist and Diligent Gambler - whose nine wins last year tied for the most by any Thoroughbred in North America - have been entered not to be claimed.

endeared himself to New York bettors with a 9-for-15 season at age 3, primarily against midlevel claimers. He has won 2 of his first 4 starts this year, but it is safe to say this will be the sternest test of his career.

, a lightly raced homebred from the Phipps Stable, hinted at major-league potential while winning 2 of 6 starts as a 3-year-old last year, including a first-level allowance triumph at Saratoga in which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 96. He returned from a layoff on Gotham Day as one of three winners for trainer Shug McGaughey.

Potrisunrise has been fast and consistent since being claimed last summer at Del Mar, winning 3 of 5 starts for Bruce Levine and averaging a Beyer of 100 during that stretch. His only start on Aqueduct's main track last fall was a troubled fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

Potrisunrise, who enjoyed his most productive campaign last year at 7, has been idle for nearly two months since winning at this same condition on the inner track.

was entered with stablemate Aggadan on Wednesday in an optional claimer with a richer $56,000 purse, and seems likely to await this $48,000 pot. Freshened after two off-the-board performances on turf and dirt at Gulfstream Park, Bailero shipped back north with a trainer change to Richard Dutrow Jr., and splashed to a lengthy score over $40,000 claimers in the slop last month, earning a career-best Beyer of 100.

My Kind of Town tops the field in wins (15) and earnings ($416,000), which explains why the 7-year-old was claimed for $50,000 by Roy Sedlacek out of his local debut, a three-wide third-place finish in the mud 18 days ago.

Country Judge recorded his two best Beyers at a mile last year at Belmont Park. His last start at the distance was a third-place finish behind multiple stakes winner Sir Shackleton, who returned to set a track record at Gulfstream next time out.