10/25/2004 12:00AM

Horses liking two turns welcome return to Big A


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Aqueduct, the track with the longest racing season among New York Racing Association tracks, opens its doors for a 43-day fall meet on Wednesday. Racing will continue at Aqueduct through May 1, with the winter-spring meet to follow the fall meet.

Horses with a preference for two turns will have ample opportunities to run in 1 1/8-mile races. A key handicapping angle at Aqueduct's fall meet is to find horses who didn't care for the 1 1/8-mile races at Belmont Park, which are run around one turn, with a long run down the backstretch. Inside posts are generally preferred in Aqueduct's 1 1/8-mile races because of the short run into the first turn.

Starting Wednesday, NYRA has added another pick four to the wagering menu. In addition to the customary pick four on races 6-9, there is now one on races 2-5.

The centerpiece of the meet is HolidayFest, which begins on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, with the Grade 3, $100,000 Fall Highweight. During the course of the holiday weekend, six stakes races are scheduled. The highlight of the weekend is the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on Nov. 27. Early contenders for the Cigar Mile include Pico Central, one of leading contenders for the Eclipse Award as top sprinter, and the undefeated Commentator.

Two important stakes for 2-year-olds, the $200,000 Remsen for colts and the $200,000 Demoiselle for fillies, also will be run on Nov. 27. Galloping Grocer, the undefeated New York-bred who became a stakes winner in last Saturday's Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park, is being pointed to the Grade 2 Remsen.

A total of 31 stakes, including 20 graded races, worth a total of $3.6 million will be run at the meet.

Racing switches to Aqueduct's one-mile inner track the first week of December.

The opening-day feature is the Grade 3, $100,000 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds. The 1 1/8-mile Discovery drew a field of eight.

One of the main contenders is My Snookie's Boy, the 119-pound highweight. Trained by Allen Iwinski, My Snookie's Boy is coming off a poor effort in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 6. My Snookie's Boy finished 10th in the 12-horse field. His efforts that preceded that race were much better - a pair of second-place finishes at Monmouth Park in the Grade 1 Haskell and Grade 3 Long Branch.

Iwinski said things didn't go My Snookie Boy's way in the Pennsylvania Derby.

"He wasn't standing square in the gate and didn't break well, then he got run into the fence on the first turn," Iwinski said. "He's been training excellent. In his last work he was kind of rank going in, so I think that means he's at the top of his game."

Joe Bravo will ride My Snookie's Boy from post 2.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the Discovery with Early Warning in 1998 and Left Bank in 2000, will saddle Navesink River.

Navesink River won an entry-level allowance at Saratoga Aug. 30. Since then, the colt has run fourth in the Grade 3 Pegasus at The Meadowlands Oct. 1.

"He's an improving horse who seems to be getting better each time," Pletcher said.

First post for the nine-race opener is 12:30 p.m.

At a glance: Aqueduct

RACING SCHEDULE: Wednesday through Sunday, except open on Nov. 2 and closed Nov. 3. Closed for Christmas break Dec. 20 through Dec. 28.

POST TIME: 12:30 p.m., except for 11 a.m. on Oct. 30 and Nov. 25 and noon on Nov. 26-27.


Oct. 30First Flight Handicap (G2)$150,000
Oct. 30Knickerbocker Handicap (G2)150,000
Nov. 6Long Island Handicap (G2)150,000
Nov. 20Red Smith Handicap (G2)150,000
Nov. 26Top Flight Handicap (G2)150,000
Nov. 27Cigar Mile Handicap (G1)350,000
Nov. 27Remsen (G2)200,000
Nov. 27Demoiselle (G2)200,000

ADMISSIONS: $2 clubhouse; $1 grandstand

PARKING: $1 general; $5 preferred; $5 valet

PHONE: (718) 641-4700

LOCATION: 110th St. and Rockaway Blvd, Jamaica, N.Y.

INTERNET: www.nyra.com