11/14/2001 1:00AM

Turf puzzle contains numerous possibilities


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Do you go with the class horses returning from layoffs, or those who are coming off sharp recent races?

Horseplayers have grappled with that question forever, and must do so again to sort out Friday's 1 1/8-mile feature on Aqueduct's turf course.

The $56,000 classified allowance drew a salty field of eight older males, six of whom have earned over $200,000. The depth of the contention is such that I'm All Yours, a one-run New York-bred who has won the West Point and Mohawk handicaps recently, and who is 6 for 9 lifetime on grass, figures as no better than fifth choice.

That's due in part to the presence of Little Ghazi and Green Fee, two 5-year-olds currently in the best form of their lives. But it is also has to do with Indy Vidual and Drama Critic, a pair of Grade 1-placed veterans returning from layoffs, and perhaps prepping for next month's William L. McKnight Handicap at Calder.

Indy Vidual suffered a slightly strained suspensory ligament while training at Saratoga during the summer, and has not started since a front-running win at Belmont in June. Dating back to 1998, Indy Vidual has been entered seven times in classified allowance races and has won four of them. The common threads among the wins were the presence of Richard Migliore in the saddle and the ability to get a clear early lead. Migliore is aboard, and Indy Vidual looks like the controlling speed on Friday.

Drama Critic has been idle since a fourth-place finish in Gulfstream Park's Pan American Handicap last March. He was fifth as the favorite in last year's Red Smith Handicap the only time he ran on this course. Although his top efforts have been delivered at 11 furlongs and beyond, he did win his only lifetime start at this distance.

Little Ghazi and Green Fee each appear capable of contending strongly off their recent efforts.

Little Ghazi has never been worse than second from four starts on this turf course. He is fresh off the best Beyer Speed Figure of his career, which was also his first start for Russell Mueller, a low-profile trainer who has won with three of his first four starters at the meet.

Green Fee won back-to-back starts at Belmont with strong stretch runs to begin his current form cycle. He rallied mildly in a $100,000 stakes at The Meadowlands last time out.

Completing the field are Strike Zone and Barnabus, last-out winners at Laurel and Delaware Park, respectively; and Slowhand, winner of a third-level conditioned allowance two back.

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