03/20/2009 12:00AM

Indian Way begins comeback in allowance sprint

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A pair of first-level allowance races highlight Sunday's nine-race card at Aqueduct and trainer Tony Dutrow appears to have major players in both events.

In the seventh, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, Dutrow sends out Indian Way for her first start in eight months. When last seen, Indian Way, a 4-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie, finished third behind Indian Blessing and By the Light in the Grade 1 Prioress at Belmont on July 5. Dutrow said Indian Way was later diagnosed with a stress fracture of her pelvis.

"I think she was affected by what was diagnosed later when she ran the Prioress," Dutrow said.

Before coming to Dutrow, Indian Way had won a maiden race for trainer Eoin Harty in her second lifetime start over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track.

"She no doubt loved the synthetic racetrack," Dutrow said. "We'll see if she likes the dirt as much. We are looking forward to her performing."

Indian Way, who will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, figures to stalk the speed of Eclectic, who is trained by Tony's brother, Richard Dutrow Jr. Eclectic hasn't been out since last May when she finished second in a first-level allowance race at Monmouth Park.

Jet Setting and Let's Fly Away are other contenders in the field.

In Sunday's eighth race, an optional $75,000 claimer for 3-year-old males at a mile and 70 yards, Dutrow sends out The Prince in a five-horse field. The Prince was second in the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes and third in the Capossela Stakes, both at six furlongs. Sunday's race will be The Prince's first around two turns.

"I've been wanting to get this guy going further for a while," Dutrow said. "I want to see it. He could be a useful horse."

Ramon Dominguez will ride The Prince from the rail.

Monk's Creek, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, could be the horse to beat in this field. Monk's Creek won his debut at Aqueduct last November, then finished fourth in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream on Jan. 10. The first two finishers from that race, Theregoesjojo and Quality Road, returned to run second and first, respectively, in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

A sure sign of spring?

On the first day of spring in New York, it snowed. Not a lot mind you, but enough to let you know that spring really doesn't arrive until sometime in April.

It was a bit of a surreal scene to watch the snow come down as members of the track maintenance crew were putting up the rails on the turf course. New York Racing Association officials have scheduled the first turf race of the year for April 3.

Glen Kozak, NYRA's director of racing surfaces, said he and his crew are doing all they can to promote growth in the turf course, but ultimately Mother Nature holds the key.

"Driving over from Belmont [the car thermometer] said 38 degrees; that's not what we like to see at this time of year," Kozak said. "We'll do everything we can to push this thing along. Unfortunately, Mother Nature's got the upper hand on this."

Among the things Kozak and his crew are doing is maintaining a tarp over portions of the course to keep the soil warmer, which promotes growth. Kozak has also sprayed a product called Greenzit in the chute, which has made the course look green.

"That was put on there to see if there's a difference between what's been covered with the turf blankets and what's been sprayed," Kozak said. "We're just trying to darken it up so it'll hold more sun."

Kozak said the Aqueduct main track will open on April 1 for racing. It will open for training the day before.

"We've been harrowing it and grating it and we're going to do some maintenance on it next week with a couple of different pieces of equipment," Kozak said.

Vic Gilardi, former agent, dies

Vic Gilardi, a former jockey agent best known for booking mounts for Jorge Velasquez and Eclipse Award winner Jorge Chavez, died Thursday after a lengthy illness. He was 78. Gilardi died exactly 53 weeks after his wife Jean died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 75. The couple was married 55 years.

Gilardi worked for Velasquez for 23 years.

"The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting Victor Gilardi and having him as my agent," Velasquez said. "I was 19 in 1965 and I came to this country under contract to [owner] Fred Hooper. I was riding the last two weeks in Atlantic City without an agent when we hooked up. Because of Vic, I am in the Hall of Fame and I won just about every major race in this country."

A viewing for Gilardi will be held Tuesday and Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Bordentown Home for Funerals, 40 Crosswicks St., Bordentown, N.J. A funeral mass will be held Thursday at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, 45 Crosswicks St., Bordentown.

In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to be made to the USO at http://www.uso.org/donate.

* Shedaisy Sioux became the 10th racing fatality on this circuit this year when she suffered a fractured right knee in midstretch of Friday's second race. Shedaisy Sioux was a 5-year-old New Jersey-bred daughter of Lion Heart who had won 5 of 16 starts and banked $174,376. She was making her fifth start but first of the year for trainer Scott Volk and owner James Riccio.