01/08/2005 12:00AM

Aqueduct cancels 6 races


The final six races of Aqueduct's Saturday card, including the $75,000 Count Fleet Stakes, were canceled when the jockeys refused to ride, citing unsafe track conditions.

The Count Fleet, New York's first stakes of the year for 3-year-olds, was rescheduled for next Saturday and will be open to original nominees. It will be redrawn Thursday.

Track superintendent Jerry Porcelli said the inner track absorbed six-tenths of an inch of rain Saturday and was sloppy to start the day. Porcelli declined to comment further.

According to jockey Richard Migliore, who rode the first two races, the riders complained of several washouts on the track following the opener. Porcelli addressed those issues, but following the third race, the jockeys complained again.

The jockeys met and, according to Migliore, voted 15-3 not to ride. Migliore, who won the second race but did not ride the third, said the inner track is an excellent cold-weather surface, but doesn't handle excessive water well.

"It reaches a certain amount of water in it and we always seem to have a problem with it when it reaches that saturation point, and I think it was just getting to that saturation point," said Migliore, who was with the majority not to ride. "After the third race, the same guys who felt very comfortable after the second race said the racetrack's falling apart, we're losing it, and didn't feel like it was in the best interests of the betting public, and the horses and our own safety, to continue."

It was the second cancellation of the inner-track meet. The Dec. 1 card was scrapped because high winds had been forecast. On the main track, the final seven races of the Thanksgiving Day card were canceled due to wet conditions.

John Passero, formerly the track superintendent in Maryland, begins work in the same role here Tuesday. Porcelli will remain at NYRA and report to Passero.