11/09/2006 12:00AM

Aqueduct cancels over surface concerns

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Aqueduct canceled its live racing card on Thursday because of concerns over the main track. It was the third cancellation in the first 12 days of the fall meet.

More than two inches of rain fell during the races Wednesday and the water got into the cushion of the track, creating an uneven surface on Thursday morning, officials said.

"The cushion needs to stay together and stay in place, and it just will not," said John Passero, the director of racing surfaces for the New York Racing Association "When the rain gets into it, it starts to, and the word I'll use for you, is 'deteriorate.' "

Passero said he had concerns over the track's cushion early Thursday morning. He called a meeting with the riders at around 11 a.m., and the jockeys confirmed that the track was uneven. The decision to cancel was made jointly by management and the riders.

"We walked it, and it's definitely very uneven," jockey John Velazquez said. "My question was, why does it split up so much when the tractors go over it?

Velazquez said that Passero had said that "the cushion is a different than the inner track and a different cushion than the main track at Belmont."