04/06/2010 12:00AM

Billy Bear back on preferred track

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After an electric performance by Eskendereya in last Saturday's Wood Memorial brought a jolt of excitement to Aqueduct, reality sets back in when racing resumes at the Big A on Wednesday, the start of the final three weeks of the meet.

The Wednesday feature is a second-level optional $25,000 claimer for New York-breds going one mile on the dirt. Five of the nine competitors are in for the optional claiming tag, including top contenders Billy Bear and Good Law.

Billy Bear returns from an 83-day layoff after two disappointing efforts over the inner track. A 5-year-old son of Tiznow, Billy Bear is 2 for 2 over Aqueduct's main track, including a 4 1/4-length victory in this condition last Nov. 13, also at a mile. Unlike that race, this time Billy Bear is being offered for the claiming tag.

Edgar Prado, who has three wins and two seconds aboard Billy Bear, is back aboard on Wednesday from the rail.

"I know he didn't like the inner track," trainer Chip Dutrow said of Billy Bear. "Glad to have Edgar back on him."

Billy Bear finished fourth to Good Law in this condition on Jan. 24. Good Law, making his first start for Tom Bush, was very good that day, rallying from off the pace under Anna Napravnik to win by 1 1/2 lengths. He moved into stakes company thereafter and finished next-to-last in both the Tinchen's Prince and Kings Point. Good Law was compromised by poor starts in both races.

Bush said the assistant starters will try something new with Good Law in the gate on Wednesday.

"They're going to keep his head turned until they spring the latch," Bush said. "He's perfect until they turn him toward the track."

In a game of musical jockeys, Fernando Jara replaces Napravnik on Good Law. Napravnik will ride Jimmy Vegas, aboard whom Ramon Dominguez won a first-level allowance on March 21. Dominguez rides Star of New York, who was beaten a neck in this condition by Most Happy Fella, who set the pace before fading to last in the Wood Memorial.

Star of New York is a perennial bridesmaid, having finished second in 7 of 14 starts, including 2 of 3 starts over the main track. Star of New York is part of a Gary Contessa-trained entry with Always on the Move, who hasn't been out in 14 months.