03/08/2002 12:00AM

Inner finale: With Ability - Zonk


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Aqueduct ushers out winter Sunday with its 69th and final card of racing over the inner track. Racing switches to the main track on Wednesday and post time moves to 1 p.m. Eastern.

One of the 17 stakes run over the main track during the spring is the $100,000 Next Move Handicap at nine furlongs on March 29. Two of the likely major players for that Grade 3 race meet Sunday, when With Ability faces Zonk and four others in a $54,000 classified allowance race at 1 1/16 miles.

With Ability, a daughter of A.P. Indy, made a successful two-turn debut last month when she romped to a 9 1/2-length victory in a third-level allowance event. Without feeling the leather of Javier Castellano's whip, With Ability covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:41.20 and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 98.

"It was what we hoped for, it might have been a little better than expected," said Seth Gregory, assistant to trainer Mark Hennig. "She obviously didn't seem to have any problems [with two turns]."

With Ability has fired a bullet five-furlong work in 1:00 since her last race, and Gregory hopes she can make an uncontested lead again Sunday.

"She seems much more relaxed when she makes the lead," Gregory said. "As long as there's no other speed that's going to run us into the ground we'll bounce her out of there and let her be a free-running filly."

With Ability could face early pressure from either Border Fire, a winner of three of her last four starts, or Double Trick. That could set things up nicely for Zonk, who figures to stalk the early pace under new rider Richard Migliore.

Zonk has had an up-and-down winter in New York. On Jan. 12, she won the Affectionately Handicap by a length over People's Princess. When the two met again in the Rare Treat, People's Princess turned the tables, finishing 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Zonk. However, Zonk was disqualified and placed fourth for causing interference in the stretch.

Another race of note on Sunday's card is the second, a preliminary allowance race for New York bred 3-year-olds at six furlongs. The race features Sherm, a 15 1/2-length winner in his debut.

Sherm contracted a virus shortly after his first start and missed about two weeks of training, according to trainer Gary Contessa. He has come back with two solid workouts and Contessa is hoping to use this race and another in April as steppingstones to the $150,000 Withers at Aqueduct on May 4.

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