01/18/2007 12:00AM

Two reach for goal: A stakes win


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Mayan King and Liquor Cabinet are two horses who have run well enough to win a stakes but have yet to do so. The best chance for either colt to do just that comes in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap over the inner track.

The Aqueduct, the lone graded stakes on this circuit during the first 10 weeks of the year, drew a field of eight, including the seven-time stakes winner Naughty New Yorker. However, with the exception of the off-the-turf Red Smith, all of Naughty New Yorker's stakes wins have come in New York-bred company.

Mayan King and Liquor Cabinet have had their promising careers interrupted by injury. But both are coming off a solid performance that should have each set up nicely for the Aqueduct, run at 1 1/16 miles.

Mayan King, a 5-year-old son of Stephen Got Even, has had a history of physical infirmities. Two years ago, he fractured a sesamoid. In July, he tore a back muscle in the starting gate of the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows, a race in which he finished last. Trainer Gary Contessa had him about ready to run two months ago when the horse popped a splint bone in a foreleg.

Mayan King made it back to the races on New Year's Day in an optional claiming race at Laurel Park, where he was beaten a nose by Bank President in a race run over a muddy track.

"The jock [Ryan Fogelsonger] got off him and said he didn't handle the track at all," Contessa said. "He was swapping leads down the backside, switching leads down the front side; he really struggled with the track and still ran a 101 Beyer number."

Contessa will also send out Silver Prospector, who won the Don Rickles overnight stakes in front-running fashion and who will most likely be on the lead in the Aqueduct.

"This is not a rabbit," Contessa said. "If you let him go he's got a big chance to win, if you go after him you're going to die trying."

Liquor Cabinet should be stalking Silver Prospector. A 6-year-old son of Hennessy, Liquor Cabinet came off an eight-month layoff to win third-level allowance race by a neck over stablemate Mr. Whitestone. His final time of 1:39.46 is the fastest time at the mile and 70-yard distance during the inner track meet.

"I'm pretty confident he's going to run another big race," trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said. "He's training like he is."

Completing the field are Angliana, New York Hero, Shuffling Maddnes, and Who What Win.