07/07/2002 11:00PM

Gripes result in dirt repair


ELMONT, N.Y. - New York Racing Association officials acknowledged there was a problem with Belmont's main track last Friday morning, and they acted quickly to rectify it. But they took exception to comments that an unfair track played a role in the outcome of Saturday's $500,000 Suburban Handicap.

E Dubai went gate to wire to win the Suburban, and was the fifth front-runner of the six dirt races contested on Saturday's card.

In post-race comments, Joe Orseno, the trainer of Macho Uno, who finished third as the even-money favorite, said the track was "not fair'' and expressed concern with the safety of the track.

Though Orseno backed off those safety concerns Sunday morning, he said "over the last two weeks, it's been a very inside speed-biased track. Where a horse breaks, that's where they stay.''

Orseno and other horsemen were also upset with something newly-appointed assistant track superintendent Pete Sinacori told a group of trainers last week in an impromptu meeting on the track apron. According to Orseno, Sinacori said it would be "cost prohibitive'' to bring in a crew at 4 a.m. to work on the track. The track crew usually reports at 8 a.m.

"They should have as good a racetrack as hands can make every day,'' said Russell Derdarian, Orseno's assistant. "To create a [bad track] is not fair to anyone whether you're betting $2 to show or you have a stake in a half-million dollar race.''

Several trainers had concerns about Belmont's main track last week, claiming it was not being watered properly, which made it too dry on top, too hard on the bottom, and was playing too fast. Several horsemen pointed to the fact that on June 30, Peggy's Mukora, who was just claimed for $20,000, ran six furlongs in 1:08.78 in a New York-bred allowance.

NYRA president Terry Meyocks said horsemen had a "legitimate beef'' with the track condition Friday morning, when it was so hard, many trainers kept their horses in the barn. Meyocks attributed the problems to a radical drop in temperature from the previous days.

Meyocks said a crew was called in early Friday to rectify the situation, and said, "It has nothing to do with cost. It's a safety issue. The safety of the horses come first.''

Meyocks added that a crew would be in early for the remaining two weeks of the meet. He said that during the Saratoga meet, a significant amount of clay and silt would be added to Belmont's main track in preparation for the fall meet.

Some trainers noticed a marked difference with the track Monday morning during training hours.

"If they could keep the track like it is today, they'd be in great shape,'' Bobby Frankel said. "Today is the best they've had this track since I've been here.''