12/11/2008 1:00AM

Country road leads north


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There will be a little West Virginia flavor added to this weekend's stakes races at Aqueduct.

Researcher, a 4-year-old gelded son of Two Smart, will bring a three-race winning streak into Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Queens County Handicap. Meanwhile, Julie B, who has earned more than $800,000 in a career spent mostly at Charles Town, brings a three-race win streak of her own into Sunday's $75,000 Ladies Handicap.

Though Researcher had won 4 of his first 8 starts on dirt, trainer Jeff Runco wanted to see how Researcher would fare on the grass. He ran in two Virginia-bred stakes at Colonial Downs, finishing third in both. Since returning to the dirt, Researcher reeled off three consecutive wins, including a 14-length score in the HBPA Governors Cup Handicap at Charles Town on Oct. 17. Three weeks later, he beat a decent field in the $125,000 Mountaineer Mile Handicap on Nov. 8.

"He beat a pretty nice horse in there that night," Runco said of the Governors Cup. "He ran a really big race that night. He did it easy as could be."

In the Mountaineer Mile, Research came from third position to run down the speedy Ravalo. He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 104.

The Queens County is run at 1 3/16 miles and will be the first time Researcher has run that far.

"A little bit further probably helps him a little," said Runco, who has secured the services of Mike Luzzi to ride.

A field of 5 to 7 runners is expected for the Queens County, including Brilliant Son, Dry Martini, Sir Whimsey, Temporary Saint, and possibly Jade's Revenge and Fuhrever Dancing.

Julie B tries to win away from Charles Town

Julie B has a career record of 14 wins from 25 starts. She is 14 for 19 at Charles Town, 0 for 6 elsewhere. She will make her first trip to New York for Sunday's $75,000 Ladies Handicap, which will be run for the 138th and final time, as it was not scheduled for 2009.

Julie B, a West Virginia-bred, has won her last three races against fellow West Virginia-breds, including the My Sister Pearl Stakes in the slop going 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 15. Her only bad race this year came when she finished sixth to Unbridled Belle in the Grade 3 Obeah Handicap at Delaware Park in June. Trainer George Yetsook said afterward that Julie B was found to have had a hormonal imbalance "that she might have been dealing with for a little while."

"I think it's very important to go away from here and do well and win a race away from here," Yetsook said by phone from Charles Town. "She's a big, strong filly . . . she's got a lot of talent. You don't win 14 races and 10 of them being stakes races without being talented."

Yetsook is looking forward to running Julie B 1 1/4 miles in the Ladies.

"I think she gets better the further she goes," he said.

Larry Reynolds, who has been aboard for 12 of Julie B's 14 wins, will come in to ride her on Sunday.

Others pointing to the Ladies include Laguna Plateada, Nijinsky Bullet, Rap Tale and Sweet Goodbye. Borrowing Base is possible as is Weathered, who is entered in an overnight stakes here on Friday going a mile and 70 yards.

Leading Suffolk rider tries New York

Winston Thompson has won nearly 3,000 races in his career, most of them at Suffolk Downs. This winter, Thompson is plying his trade at Aqueduct, where three of his major clients - Rafael Ramos, Karl Grusmark, and George Saccardo - have decided to stable.

Thompson picked up his first win of the meet Wednesday, guiding the Gary Gullo-trained Taintedlove ($40.80) to a victory in a $10,000 claiming race. It was Thompson's first win in New York since Dec. 8, 1996, when he rode Closer to Fine to an allowance victory.

Thompson understands he won't have as much success here as he has had in Boston, where he has been the leading rider four of the last five years. Last year, he rode at Tampa and the winter before that he was at Laurel Park.

"It's a tougher colony, but the money's a lot better and you don't have to win as much to be able to survive," said Thompson, who has won 2,928 races. "You just have to get the opportunity, which is not easy, because even though a lot of the good riders leave, there are still a lot of good riders here."