03/31/2009 12:00AM

Horses scarce as main track opens


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The transfer of racing from Aqueduct's inner oval to the main track on Wednesday does not necessarily signal a transformation to a much-improved product. In reality, the next few weeks tend to be some of the more difficult cards for the racing office to fill.

Many of the horses that raced here all winter have left for other locales or are just burned out from the long winter. Reinforcements from south Florida are slow to arrive or are in need of a freshening themselves with the Belmont Park meet more their focus.

Wednesday's card is indicative of the potential difficulties that could be present in trying to fill the day-to-day cards this spring. Twenty-six of the 69 horses entered have run at least once in the last two weeks. A starter handicap and starter allowance - glorified claiming races - serve as the day's featured events.

The good news is that turf racing is scheduled to return on Friday with two races carded - weather permitting. The better news is that Saturday's card is the highlight of the 18-day main-track season with four stakes on an 11-race card, highlighted by the $750,000 Wood Memorial for 3-year-old Kentucky Derby hopefuls and the $300,000 Carter for older male sprinters. Also scheduled are the $200,000 Bay Shore, a sprint for 3-year-olds, and the $200,000 Excelsior, a 1 1/8-mile race for the older males.

The first two weeks of the spring season include only four racing days, as Aqueduct is mandated by state law to be dark the next two Sundays (Palm Sunday and Easter).

Regardless of class level, horses shipping up from Gulfstream tend to do well this time of year at Aqueduct. The only horse that fits the bill Wednesday is Another Success, who runs in a $44,000 starter allowance for horses that won a maiden race for $50,000 claiming or less.

Another Success, trained by John Kimmel, comes off an 8 1/2-length victory in a $30,000 maiden claimer at Gulfstream on Feb. 28. In his start before that, an $80,000 maiden claimer, Another Success was seventh, beaten 10 1/2 lengths in a race that produced five next-out winners. One of those was Forest King, who won a $45,000 maiden claimer here on March 25. Cornelio Velasquez will ride Another Success from posto3.

Other contenders in the field include the Gary Contessa-trained entry of Bad Action and Hale and Hearty and Masala T, who won a $20,000 claimer over the main track last November.