10/14/2005 11:00PM

Clear skies for races to resume


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The sun finally broke through over the weekend, a welcome development at the soggy Meadowlands that ran only three races last week.

"I'm so happy the sun is back out, I can't even tell you," said trainer Kim Laudati. "It was awful. The only ones who didn't seem to mind were the horses. I hope we don't see another storm like that for quite a while."

The continuous, at times torrential, weeklong rain flooded the area and forced the cancellation of all or parts of six straight programs at The Meadowlands. The track last ran a complete card on Oct. 7.

With the weather improving, the track plans to resume racing Tuesday, with a 1:10 p.m. matinee.

"The record rains are behind us," said the track's racing secretary, Mike Dempsey. "and we hope to get things back to a normal schedule."

Laudati is raring to go, as she has Pioneer Empire in Tuesday's $38,000 allowance feature at five furlongs on the main track.

Pioneer Empire was a sharp claim for $16,000 on May 14 at Monmouth Park. With multiple claims on the horse, Laudati won a four-way shake for Pioneer Empire, a 4-year-old gelding who has a win, a second, and two thirds in five allowance races since the barn change.

Pioneer Empire made his turf debut last time out at Delaware Park. He got off slower than usual before rallying along the inside to get fourth.

"We had always talked over the course of the summer about trying him on the turf," Laudati said. "He struggled in the last race for the first eighth of a mile, but he made a good late run."

On the return to the main track, Laudati will change riders to seven-pound apprentice Stacy Podobinski. Stewart Elliott had been aboard for the last two Meadowlands efforts.

"I think he needs to pick up two to three fifths of a second," Laudati said. "The theory is to use the bug to get the extra fifths out of him to sprint five-eighths at The Meadowlands."

Laudati is encouraged that Pioneer Empire finally drew an outside post. The horse had the rail or post 2 in every race since the claim and now gets the outside slot in the nine-horse field.

"To be outside of a lot of the natural speed in the race can only be to his advantage," Laudati said.