03/28/2002 12:00AM

Almost time for 2-year-olds and turf

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - A rite of spring took place at Aqueduct when racing switched from the inner to the main track on March 13. Handicappers and horsemen can now look forward to the return of 2-year-old racing in New York on Wednesday and turf racing, weather permitting, the following week.

Mike Lakow, the New York Racing Association's racing secretary and handicapper, included a pair of 2-year-old races in the newest condition book, released this week. The book also features seven grass races, with the first scheduled for April 10.

Providing the races fill, the first 2-year-old event, a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race for fillies, is on tap for Wednesday.

Warm winter helped turf course

Jerry Porcelli, NYRA's track superintendent, is pleased with the condition of Aqueduct's turf course even though the New York metropolitan area experienced one of the driest winters on record.

Porcelli said the unseasonably warm weather helped the course, even if the rainfall amounts were deficient.

"We might be a little ahead of last year because of a lack of frost," Porcelli explained. "We've also gotten lucky with the timing of the application of the fertilizer because it rained after the two times we put it on."

Porcelli said more rain and a warmer temperatures would stimulate grass growth.

Unless there is a significant amount of rain over the weekend, Porcelli said he would like to open Belmont Park's main track for business Monday. Showers are forecast for overnight Friday and Saturday. The opening of the main track would help ease the congestion on Belmont's training track, which has steadily gotten busier as more and more outfits return to New York after spending the winter in Florida and Louisiana.

Maiden leaves gate with no rider

When French Factor was declared a non-starter in Thursday's first race, a total of $386,120 bet on the filly, the 9-5 second choice, had to be refunded.

French Factor was acting fractious in the starting gate and just as jockey Javier Castellano stepped off the filly onto the side of the stall, the gate sprung open and French Factor exited without a rider.

Iannone ($17.80) won the maiden claiming race.

Arromanches makes first start for Lake

Arromanches, whose 10-race win streak was snapped in his last start, is entered in Saturday's fourth race, a $50,000 claimer.

Arromanches recently was reunited with trainer Scott Lake, who lost Arromanches in a $50,000 claiming race in February to trainer Arthur Wendel and owner Bruce Golden. Wendel had lost 97 consecutive races before saddling Arromanches for the first time on Feb. 28, and Arromanches made it 98 by finishing fifth in a $65,000 claimer. Shortly after the race, Golden switched the 9-year-old to Lake's barn.

Sunday Break on target for Wood

Sunday Break, who will run in the $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 13 after winning an allowance Wednesday, came out of the race in good order, according to Danny Lopez, a groom for trainer Neil Drysdale. Lopez and Sunday Break's exercise rider, Marcelino Olguin, will remain at Aqueduct with the colt as he prepares for the Wood Memorial.

Lopez said another Drysdale runner, Bella Bellucci, the winner of the Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita last weekend, would arrive in New York on Saturday to run in the $100,000 Comely on April 14.

* Evening Attire worked a half-mile in 48.20 seconds, breezing, at Belmont on Thursday for the $150,000 Excelsior Handicap on April 6. Weights for the Grade 3 Excelsior are due out Saturday.