12/13/2008 12:00AM

Two turns a positive for Sir Whimsey

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Sir Whimsey won't be able to fill the void of older horses left in trainer Steve Asmussen's barn with the retirements of Curlin, Student Council, and Magna Graduate, but he certainly could be a big player in the handicap division this winter in New York.

Sir Whimsey steps back into graded stakes competition Saturday when he meets four rivals in the Grade 3, $100,000 Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct. A solid performer over the inner track and at 1 3/16 miles, Sir Whimsey rates an edge over the likes of graded winners Dry Martini, Temporary Saint, and the West Virginia invader Researcher in the Queens County. Brilliant Son completes the field.

Sir Whimsey was moved to Asmussen shortly after he finished third in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special in May. He didn't run for Asmussen until Nov. 7, when he finished a nonthreatening fourth in a swiftly run allowance race won by Bribon. That race was a one-turn mile.

"Little bit too sharp, didn't quite get the ride I wanted, still ran a respectable Beyer, but not his typical way of running," assistant trainer Toby Sheets said. "We've regrouped."

Sir Whimsey has a win and three seconds in six inner-track starts. Stretching out from a one-turn mile to 1 3/16 miles around two turns should benefit Sir Whimsey, who won the Gulfstream Park Handicap at that distance in March.

"I think he's kind of a one-paced horse, so I think farther is better," Sheets said. "At the beginning, I thought he would like the mile - I know he's won at a mile - but I think he's much better off going farther."

Sir Whimsey is owned by Turtle Bird Stable and will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez. These are the same connections that won last Sunday's Damon Runyon with the promising juvenile Haynesfield.

Dry Martini enters the Queens County off a 3 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Stuyvesant last month over a muddy main track. Dry Martini took advantage of a solid pace established by Temporary Saint and Brilliant Son, both of whom are back in this race.

"He ran the way we were expecting him to run," trainer Billy Turner said. "The way he closed in the mud was very good."

The extra sixteenth of a mile of the Queens County shouldn't bother Dry Martini at all, Turner said.

Researcher has won 7 of 13 starts, but mostly in West Virginia. Brilliant Son and Temporary Saint will have to avoid dueling each other into the ground to have any chance.