11/19/2008 1:00AM

Dry Martini pointed for Queens County


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – With the temperature taking a nosedive in the New York area, trainer Billy Turner envisions Dry Martini becoming a “winter warrior” at Aqueduct.

Dry Martini earned his first win in four starts for Turner on Saturday, pulling away to a decisive win in the Grade 3 Stuyvesant Handicap at the foggy and muddy Big A.

The victory did not surprise Turner after the 5-year-old gelding rallied for fifth in his previous race, the Knickerbocker Handicap on the turf at Belmont Park.

“They didn’t set any pace, so when he made his run, he had too much to make up,” Turner said. The trainer added that Dry Martini “ran about the way we expected him to” in the Stuyvesant, “because he has been training very well.”

Dry Martini is owned by Carol Nyren. Turner got Dry Martini following a fifth-place finish in an August allowance race at Calder, when he was trained by Ronald Spatz. Dry Martini’s ability to win on an off track will be an asset as the weather deteriorates.

“They told me he would like the off going, because they ran him a couple of times on it in Florida and he liked it,” Turner said. “I had had no experience with him on it, but it worked out just fine.”

Turner is now targeting Dry Martini for the Grade 3 Queens County, a 1 3/16-mile handicap at Aqueduct on Dec. 13.

The challenge will be finding races long enough. Dry Martini seems best suited for 1 1/8 miles, the Stuyvesant distance.

“There aren’t too many opportunities for him,” Turner said. “He has to go long.”

The victory last weekend was a long-overdue Stuyvesant triumph for Turner. He had been replaced as trainer when Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew won the 1978 renewal.

“That sure did make this one fun,” Turner said.

Godolphin packing up youngsters

Godolphin Stable finished its New York season on a positive note, winning the Pass the Tab overnight stakes with National Pride on Sunday at Aqueduct.

National Pride, entered for the main track only, joined the field when the race came off the turf. He was also nominated to the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct this Saturday, but the Pass the Tab was too inviting a spot to pass.

National Pride got up by a nose for his third win in the last four races with Eibar Coa aboard.

“Eibar said he could have won the race by a lot more,” said Rick Mettee, Godolphin’s New York-based trainer. “National Pride’s a bit of a funny character. He’s got his quirks.”

Godolphin is in the process of breaking camp at Belmont Park, with the younger runners eventually heading to Dubai for the winter.

National Pride will remain behind, running in Darley Stable colors for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The transfer was set to take place Wednesday afternoon.

“There is not a lot in our program for an older developing horse like him, 3 turning 4,” Mettee said.

McLaughlin was pleased to add National Pride to his barn.

“He’s a nice colt and we’re excited to get him,” McLaughlin said. “He was game in that last race. Eibar was riding him a long way out.”

McLaughlin didn’t know whether National Pride would remain in New York or head to Florida.

“We really haven’t planned anything yet,” McLaughlin said. “We have Etched for the same owner, a similar type horse. Once we get him, I will discuss it with the people involved and see which way we’re going to go.”

Anak Nakal heads Discovery probables

Pennsylvania Derby winner Anak Nakal tops the list of likely runners for the Discovery at 1 1/8 miles.

Aqueduct’s stakes coordinator, Andrew Byrnes, also expects the West Virginia Derby winner, Ready Set, as well as Lieutenant Ron, Coach Shaw, Power Game, Premium Gold, Screen to Screen, and That’srightofficer.

* There are several time changes on tap next week at Aqueduct for the annual HolidayFest. First post on Wednesday and Sunday will remain the usual 12:30 p.m. The Thanksgiving card will get under way Thursday at 11:25 a.m. First post Friday and Saturday will be 12:25 p.m.

* Buddy’s Humor held off a game Pick Six by a half-length Wednesday in the $68,450 Four Bases overnight stakes Breaking from the outside post against eight rivals, Jose Lezcano guided Buddy’s Humor ($12.60) to the front as the field passed the wire the first time. A 4 year-old trained by Bruce Levine, Buddy’s Humor was never headed the rest of the way. The time was 1:44.43 for the 1 1/16 miles on good turf.