02/25/2009 1:00AM

Happy to be back at Big A


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The way True Resurgence won a third-level allowance race here on Dec. 11, it looked as though he could be a major player in the older-male stakes run over Aqueduct's inner track this winter.

His connections aimed higher than that, however, and tried him in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park. For whatever reason, True Resurgence didn't take to the south Florida sunshine and he finished 11th of 14 in the Hal's Hope, 10 lengths behind Delightful Kiss.

Rather than push the issue at Gulfstream, trainer John Terranova opted to ship True Resurgence back north for Saturday's $65,000 Stymie Stakes at 1 1/8 miles over the inner track. True Resurgence drew post 6 in a field of eight. The racing office deemed the Stymie competitive enough to leave it in the pick four sequence which has a guaranteed pool of $250,000. The previous two weekends, the feature was moved to race 3 - due to a short field or prohibitive favorite - and kept out of the late pick four.

Since owners Donna and Vernon Dubinksy moved the horse to the Terranova stable, True Resurgence has 2 wins and 2 seconds from 6 starts. He won a second-level allowance at Saratoga before running seventh to Arson Squad in the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup.

Tonja Terranova, the assistant trainer to her husband, said True Resurgence came out of the Meadowlands Cup with a respiratory infection. After a lengthy freshening, True Resurgence came with back with that third-level allowance score in which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

"He had a huge effort here, we shipped him down there," Tonja Terranova said. "Maybe the heat got to him because he ran a very flat race. I don't think he really liked Florida.''

True Resurgence worked several times at Palm Meadows before returning to New York in time to breeze a half-mile in 48.75 seconds last Saturday over the Belmont training track.

"He breezed great, he looks good, he's happy to be home,'' Terranova said.

Barrier Reef, who is 4 for 5 over the inner track, including a neck victory in the Evening Attire Stakes, will likely be favored in the Stymie. Two horses, Researcher and Manteca, bring four-race winning streaks into the Stymie. Researcher won the Queens County Handicap here on Dec. 13, while Manteca comes off a victory in the restricted Rough Rogue Stakes.

Barcola, Judiths Wild Rush, Brilliant Son, and Real Merchant are also entered in the Stymie.

Grand Champion aims for Toboggan

It appeared that Mike Hushion was given a nice gift for the winter when owners Susan and John Moore turned the stakes-winning sprinter Grand Champion over to him for the meet. But to this point, Hushion has been unable to get the 2007 Fall Highweight winner to the races.

First, Hushion scratched Grand Champion from the Gravesend in December due to an off track. Then, Grand Champion was forced to miss the Paumonok in January due to a quarter crack in a front foot that kept him out of training for a week.

"It hasn't worked out so far,'' Hushion said. "We're only one win away from it being a successful winter for him.''

Hushion hopes to get that win with Grand Champion in the Grade 3, $100,000 Toboggan Stakes on March 7. On Wednesday, Grand Champion worked a strong five furlongs in 1:00.17 over the Belmont training track in preparation for the Toboggan.

"It was time for one,'' Hushion said, referring to a strong work.

Grand Champion, who has won 6 of 18 starts, has not run since finishing fourth to Fabulous Strike in last November's Fall Highweight.

Four loose horses, none hurt

There were a few scary moments during training hours at Belmont Park on Wednesday morning when four horses got loose at the same time. Incredibly, none was seriously injured.

The problem began at the starting gate where two horses were ready to breeze. A horse near the gate acted up and got loose, and the two horses in the gate both got spooked. One horse broke through the front of the gate, and another broke through the back. A fourth horse, also near the gate, got spooked by the incident, dumped its rider and ran off.

Two of the horses were quickly apprehended by the outriders while the other two ran off separate gaps and were corralled near their barns.

None of the riders involved in the incident was reported injured.

Pick four business booming

Thus far, the guaranteed late pick four pool NYRA is offering on Saturdays has been a hit. On Feb. 14, the pool was $339,364. Last Saturday, the pool was $376,790.

The payouts have been strong as well. On Feb. 14, the late pick four returned $2,373 for $2 while last Saturday the winning payout was $1,629.

Prior to the guarantee, the pick four pool topped $250,000 only twice and never surpassed $300,000.

* Apprentice jockey Maylan Studart on Monday began serving 17 days' worth of careless riding suspensions handed her by the stewards at this meet. Studart was cited for careless riding in the second race on Dec. 5 and again in the fifth race on Jan. 11. Studart, who has won 12 races from 159 starters at the meet, will be eligible to ride again on March 12.

* In an effort to reach out to racing and sports media, the NYRA has begun posting updates, newsflashes, and links on Twitter, an increasingly popular social media micro-blogging site, under the name "NYRAcomm.'' NYRA can also be found on social media sites Facebook and My Space.

* Purses for overnight races on Gotham Day, March 7, will be increased by $10,000 per race, the racing office announced Wednesday.

* Zada Belle, the Interborough winner, worked four furlongs in 52.43 seconds Wednesday morning at Belmont. Zada Belle was held out of Friday's Feel the Beat Stakes and will await the Grade 3, $150,000 Distaff Handicap on March 21.