03/28/2006 12:00AM

Can these fillies do it again?


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Thursday's forecast is for abundant sunshine and highs in the low 60's, and racing has switched to the main track, two sure signs of spring. But Thursday's card has a winter feel even if all systems are "go," according to track superintendent John Passero.

The main-track opening was delayed last year by persistent wintry weather, so the switch was pushed back three weeks this year to ensure March indeed went out like a lamb.

"Last year the base was a lot wetter," Passero said. "This year it was drier, and everything looked good from a structural standpoint."

Spring officially arrives in New York for horseplayers when turf racing returns, and so far the target date for the first race on Aqueduct's hairpin course remains Wednesday, April 12.

"Right now it doesn't seem like it wants to wake up," said Passero of the turf course, "but all we need is a few days of warm weather, and it should green up and do better."

Passero added that Belmont Park's main track is "coming along good" and is scheduled to open for training next Wednesday, April 5. "And after that, the big guys will come back from Florida, and I'll start biting my fingernails again," he said.

Aside from those in race 3, a $35,000 claimer at a mile for older males that drew a short field of six and lacks a clear pacesetter, the two fastest horses on Thursday's program are fillies: Coded Princess in the first race and Tamberino in the nominal eighth-race feature, an entry-level allowance for New York-breds.

ran 10 times as a 3-year-old in 2005 for Todd Pletcher, and her best race against the clock was a win against $25,000 claimers out of the Aqueduct chute last fall that earned her an 82 Beyer Speed Figure. Her first two races at 4 have been faster, capped by a 98 Beyer for wiring a starter handicap field similar to this one.

Good things were expected of right from the start. After losing her first three starts as the favorite, she put it all together and won her maiden by 11 lengths, leaping to a career-best 86 Beyer for trainer Tom Bush.

The question for Coded Princess and Tamberino is whether their top performances, in which they had the benefit of clear leads on the inner track, can be replicated on the main.

"The main track is more honest to a closer," said winter training champ Gary Contessa, who saddles four horses on the card. "Speed horses are still good, but the closers have less traffic problems."