02/26/2005 1:00AM

Big A non-starter: $567K in refunds

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Favorites took it on the chin in a number of ways during Saturday's Aqueduct card, climaxed by a calamitous start for Evening Edition in the fifth race.

Evening Edition, the even-money choice in a field of New York-bred filly-and-mare allowance sprinters, threw her head as the gates opened and came out far behind the field. She eventually finished next to last, but the stewards ruled she was in the hands of an assistant starter at the start and therefore was a non-starter.

The $567,169 bet on Evening Edition in various pools was refunded. A consolation pick three was paid on live tickets in the sequence of races 3-4-5 and 4-5-6.

Pick four and pick six tickets using Evening Edition were switched to the post-time favorite, Town Charmer, who set the early pace and finished last.

Earlier, longshots lit up the tote board in both divisions of a maiden special-weight sprint for 3-year-old New York-breds.

The first division was won wire to wire by General Howze, the second-longest price in a field of 11. General Howze paid $139, eclipsing Napoleon Solo's $106 win mutuel on Feb. 2 as the largest in New York this year. The second division also went to the second-longest price when King Umberto rallied to prevail in a blanket finish, paying $62.