11/14/2003 12:00AM

Change of setting for Arroyo


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - If he stayed in New York this winter, Norberto Arroyo Jr. could have made a lot of money and contended for leading rider honors at Aqueduct.

But Arroyo, 27, is looking at the big picture, which is why he is eschewing New York to spend the winter in south Florida.

Arroyo, New York's leading rider in 2000, is scheduled to head for south Florida on Dec. 1 to ride at Calder for a month and then spend the rest of the winter at Gulfstream Park. His agent will be Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. Cordero also represents John Velazquez, but in Florida, unlike New York, agents may represent more than one journeyman.

Arroyo hopes to pick up business from several New York-based trainers who spend their winters in Florida.

"I've been in New York the last three years," Arroyo said. "In Florida, I could ride for different guys, better horses. I know I can make a lot of money here in the winter and I certainly think I can finish in the top five. But I'm doing this for my future, for 5, 10, 15 years from now."

Arroyo is also trying to change his image. Since coming to New York, he has had two brushes with the law, and earlier this year he spent 10 weeks in a Long Island prison for assault. By aligning himself with Cordero, Arroyo hopes to prove he's serious about his riding career.

Cordero sees potential in Arroyo and has already received interest from trainers such as Shug McGaughey and Christophe Clement.

"I always liked his riding," Cordero said of Arroyo. "He wanted to try Miami. It's a great opportunity for him to change his image a little, change his pace.

"Shug rides him once in awhile, Billy [Mott] rides him once in awhile, and Christophe Clement likes him a lot. I think he's got ability. He's got to have the patience and he's going to have to work and get lucky."

Macaw breezes to Red Smith

Macaw hasn't won a race in eight attempts this year, yet he has still earned $466,500. He will try for his first win of 2003 when he runs in the Grade 2, $150,000 Red Smith Handicap next Saturday at Aqueduct.

On Friday, Macaw breezed four furlongs in 48.56 seconds over the Belmont main track.

"He had a nice work this morning," said Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg. "He should like Aqueduct and the tight turns."

Despite having no wins this year, Macaw has run competitively in some major events. He finished third, beaten less than a length, in the Grade 2 Bowling Green; finished second, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer; and finished second, beaten less than a length, in the Grade 1 Canadian International in his most recent start.

"One of these days he's going to win one of these," Smullen said. "The only thing that he's done wrong is not win."

Irish Colonial, a New York-bred stakes winner, worked five furlongs in 1:01.64 over the main track in preparation for the Red Smith. Others pointing to the race include Balto Star, Cetewayo, Dawn of the Condor, Deputy Strike, Final Prophecy, and Revved Up. Haggs Castle and Just Listen are possible.

Funny Cide ships to Florida Tuesday

Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, will ship to south Florida on Tuesday, Smullen said. Funny Cide will be stabled at Gulfstream Park for two weeks before being moved to the Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach. Palm Meadows opens Nov. 29.

Smullen said Funny Cide has been cantering the wrong way around Belmont's main track each morning.

"He's not going to do any breezing until the end of November, beginning of December," Smullen said.

Tagg has stated that an early-season target for Funny Cide is the $500,000 Donn Handicap on Feb. 7 at Gulfstream. There is a chance he could prep for that race in the $100,000 Hal's Hope on Jan. 3, opening day of the Gulfstream meet.

Presidentialaffair may try Cigar

Presidentialaffair, the upset winner of Tuesday's Stuyvesant Handicap, may run back in the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile on Nov. 29, his trainer, Martin Ciresa, said.

"He came out of the race really good; he seemed to be kicking the barn down this morning," Ciresa said from Philadelphia Park. "That's the race we wanted to run in. The one-turn mile is basically what he's bred to do."

Ciresa said he wouldn't make a final decision until he gets closer to the race.

Nominations for the Cigar Mile were to close Saturday. Among those expected for the race are Congaree, Midas Eyes, Bowman's Band, and Well Fancied.

* Sunday's card, which is headed by the $75,000 Huntington Stakes for juvenile colts, also includes the $60,000 King Cugat Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf. Blakelock, who has won two of his last three starts, looks like the one to beat.

Other contenders include Willard Straight, Erin's Storm, and Private Scandal. Newfoundland is the one to beat if the race comes off the turf.

* Gander, who finished third in the Stuyvesant, may make his next start in the $100,000 Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

* Pocus Hocus, dominant winner of the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap on Nov. 1, worked three furlongs in 36.27 seconds over Belmont's training track Friday. She is being pointed to the Grade 2, $150,000 Top Flight Handicap on Nov. 28.