10/17/2006 11:00PM

Dutrow covered wet or dry


ELMONT, N.Y. - As was the case on Wednesday, weather could play a pivotal role on Friday's nine-race card at Belmont Park, but trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. won't be fretting about it, at least when it comes to the afternoon's featured race.

Dutrow has entered both Wild Nature and Upturn in the third-level allowance race scheduled for one mile on the main track. Both horses would likely run if the track is fast, but only Upturn will start if the track is wet.

On a fast track, Wild Nature looks like the horse to beat. In a second-level allowance race here on July 15, Wild Nature cruised to a 3 3/4-length victory and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103.

It took Dutrow more than two months to find a third-level allowance to fill, and that came over a wet surface at Monmouth Park on Sept. 24. While Dutrow said he didn't want to run Wild Nature that day, it may have been the trip more so than track condition that cost him the half-length he was beaten.

Wild Nature sat last of five early but there was a three-ply speed duel developing in front of him. In the stretch, apprentice rider Mario Madrid didn't have much room to run, and when he went for a hole between horses, he got shut off. Wild Nature's re-rally along the rail fell short behind repeat winner Lucky Gamble, who was entered here on Thursday.

Edgar Prado will ride Wild Nature from post 8.

Upturn is a four-time winner on wet surfaces and is 4 for 6 overall at Belmont. He is being offered for the $75,000 optional claiming price, and he won for that price here on Sept. 8. A New Jersey-bred son of Distorted Humor, Upturn finished fifth in the Jersey Breeders' Handicap at Monmouth on Sept. 16.

"I don't understand why that horse doesn't run well at Monmouth anymore," Dutrow said. "He used to love it there."

The last time he ran over a wet Belmont surface, Upturn won an optional claiming race by 2 1/4 lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 103.

Cornelio Velasquez will ride Upturn from the outside post in the 10-horse field.

Indy Wind goes turf to dirt for owner-trainer Amy Tarrant. In his last start on dirt, Indy Wind finished second to Park Avenue Ball in the Skip Away Stakes at Monmouth.