12/09/2005 1:00AM

Decision to cancel card draws mixed reactions


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Though the snow forecasted for Friday at Aqueduct never came, New York Racing Association officials still believe they made the right decision to scrap Friday's nine-race card. The storm, which did dump several inches of snow north and west of New York City, began as snow but quickly changed to rain around Aqueduct.

By 12:30 p.m. - normal post time - the sun was shining, there was not a flake of snow on the inner track, and the mercury was in the mid-30's. While NYRA senior vice president Bill Nader said NYRA "probably could have" run Friday's card, he believes canceling racing and training was the prudent thing to do because of freezing rain that fell early in the morning.

"We're happy with it," Nader said about the decision to announce Friday's cancellation on Thursday. "We talked with some horsemen, and we think it's the right call. If we had waited till this morning, we would have canceled. There was snow, freezing rain, and then rain. We probably could have run today, but there would have been a little price we would have paid. The track [Saturday] and Sunday and moving forward will be in much better condition because we didn't run today."

Nader said that with the detention barn setup - in which the horses for the first two races must be on Aqueduct's grounds by 7:30 a.m. - NYRA may be quicker to announce cancellations earlier than in years past.

"It's something we got to think about as we make our decision throughout the winter," Nader said. "In fairness, you got to think ahead a little more than in the past."

Reaction among the horsemen was mixed. John Pregman, who had three horses to run on Friday's card, said NYRA "jumped the gun."

"I think they should have waited," said Pregman, who is stabled at Aqueduct. "I was surprised when they called me at 4 o'clock [Thursday] and said we canceled.''

Gary Contessa, who had two runners scheduled to run Friday, said NYRA's decision to cancel "was an attempt to do the right thing and part of what you have to deal with in the winter."

Presidentialaffair to try Gravesend

Though he has been more successful routing, Presidentialaffair will cut back to a sprint for his next start, the $75,000 Gravesend Handicap here on Dec. 18. The Gravesend is run at six furlongs, a distance that Presidentialaffair has not run at since May 11, 2004. Presidentialaffair finished last in the 2003 Gravesend.

"He's doing real good. I don't want to stop him, and I didn't want to run a mile and five-eighths," said trainer Martin Ciresa, referring to the distance of Gallant Fox Handicap here Dec. 31. "It looks like a good spot from what I saw nomination-wise. He struggled all year, but I think we finally found what was bothering him physically."

Ciresa said he believes Presidentialaffair's early speed makes him dangerous at any distance.

"When he sprinted before, he didn't have to have the lead, but, boy, now he can run to the lead against anybody," Ciresa said. "You can't make him do anything. You just let him do his thing."

There were only 15 horses nominated to the Gravesend. Among those who are intending to run are Clever Electrician, Exciting Metro, and Introspect.

Shuman shipper live in Twist Afleet

Mark Shuman, once a private trainer for controversial owner Michael Gill, has gone public, and one of his early success stories has been See Alice, who ships in from Maryland for Sunday's $65,000 Twist Afleet Stakes.

Claimed for $15,000 in August, See Alice has won 3 of 5 starts for Shuman, including allowance races at Delaware and Laurel. See Alice does her best running from off the pace, and there appears to be ample speed in the Twist Afleet, a six-furlong dash for 3-year-old fillies that have not won an open stakes.

Slew Motion, Lady Blue Sky, Popular Delusions, and Bellini Sunrise all look as though they want to be on the front end. See Alice should work out a good stalking trip from her outside post under Jose Santos.

Pelham Bay, a New York-bred stakes winner who makes her third start off a layoff, and Grecian Wings, who has made her last four starts on turf, complete the field.