07/18/2007 12:00AM

Wild Desert faces softer opposition


ELMONT, N.Y. - After running in 14 consecutive stakes races, including competitive efforts against the likes of Invasor and Premium Tap, Wild Desert gets some much-needed class relief when he runs in a third-level allowance race on Friday at Belmont Park.

The $60,000 allowance race, run at one mile, is one of seven dirt races brought back and re-drawn from Wednesday's card, which was canceled due to heavy rains that resulted in flooding in and around Belmont. First post for the final sunset Friday of the meet is 3 p.m.

All six horses originally entered for Wednesday entered back for Friday with Wild Desert drawing the same post position (2) that he had Wednesday. Cornelio Velasquez rides.

Wild Desert, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., has not been out since he finished second behind Premium Tap in last November's Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. Prior to that, he finished second to Master Command in the Meadowlands Cup. Earlier in 2006, Wild Desert ran second to Invasor in the Suburban at Belmont. Wild Desert has not won since the Queen's Plate at Woodbine two years ago.

Following the Clark, Dutrow shipped Wild Desert to Rood and Riddle, an equine clinic in Lexington, Ky., for an examination. A strain in a suspensory ligament was diagnosed, and Dutrow was advised to give Wild Desert plenty of time off.

"He ran with it, [and] he ran good, but I wanted to get him better," Dutrow said. "Right now, I'm satisfied with him; he's doing very good. It's not life and death for him to win, but it looks like he's better than those horses."

Tasteyville, who is being offered for the optional claiming price of $75,000, has kept some salty company in his last three starts. He ran second to the Dutrow-trained Diamond Stripes in April, third to repeat stakes winner Papi Chullo on May 4, and second behind repeat stakes winner High Finance on May 27. All three races were at this same condition.

Moon's Halo will attempt to stretch out in distance. A sharp second-level allowance winner at Gulfstream in March, Moon's Halo finished last in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap over a wet track on Derby Day and last in a third-level allowance here on June 22.