02/19/2003 12:00AM

Beulah cancels back half of card


GROVE CITY, Ohio - Although racing resumed at Beulah Park on Tuesday after Saturday and Sunday programs were canceled because of a snowstorm that hit the central Ohio area over the weekend, the track could not make it through Wednesday's card.

Beulah Park had to cancel the last four races of its eight-race program Wednesday after the jockeys refused to ride, citing unsafe track conditions. Wednesday's card was a makeup day for this past Saturday's card.

The first four races Wednesday were run over a thawing-out track listed as good after a mixture of sleet and snow fell. Bumpawheat, a 5-year-old maiden, suffered a catastrophic break down in his left front leg in midstretch of the fourth race after which the riders refused to ride.

Track management had pressed for continuation of the races as the signal was being simulcast to NYRA and the track was on a pace to set new total handle records.

The lost programs over the weekend were only the second and third lost in the winter meet, which began in January. Beulah has raced through severe weather several times during the meet when other area tracks canceled.

Several track records have been broken over the hard racing surface in the past three weeks.

"It's frozen underneath, but it's winter racing and there isn't much we can do about it," said Beulah general manager Mike Weiss, who added that he has not received any complaints from horsemen about the racing surface.

Average field sizes have remained healthy during the meet, which seems to support Weiss's claim that trainers are satisfied with the track.

Beulah has been altering the amount of time between races on a daily basis during the meet, with some programs ending a few minutes before 4 p.m. and others going until 4:30. The changes are by design, according to Weiss, who explained that Beulah is trying to avoid having their races go at the same time as the major tracks.

"We are a small fish in a big pond and we have to do what we can to get noticed. When we race at the same time as Gulfstream or Tampa it kills our handle," Weiss said.

* In the jockey standings, Huber Villa-Gomez holds a 27-17 advantage over both Ivan Gonzalez and Marco Ccamaque through Tuesday. Gonzalez and Ccamaque figure to close the gap this week as Villa-Gomez is serving a seven-day suspension after dropping an appeal from the fall meet. Villa-Gomez captured his first Beulah riding title at the fall meet.

* Do It Again Bragg joined K J's Dance as the only three-time winner at the meet following a gate-to-wire score in a $5,000 claiming race restricted to Ohio-breds on Tuesday. The victory was Do It Again Bragg's fourth straight for owner-trainer Patricia Bragg dating back to Dec. 6, 2002. Ramon Luna has been aboard the 4-year-gelding in all three starts this year.