11/13/2003 12:00AM

Krone, gone five years, returns to New York

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Jockey Julie Krone, the winningest female rider in history, will be at Aqueduct on Saturday to ride Banyu Dewi in the Grade 2, $150,000 Long Island Handicap. It marks her first appearance in New York since Nov. 6, 1998. Her last win in New York came on Oct. 30, 1998.

Krone moved her tack to Louisiana later that year and eventually announced her retirement in the Aqueduct press box in April 1999. Krone came out of retirement a year ago in Southern California, and last month she became the first female rider to win a Breeders' Cup race on the flat when she guided Halfbridled to victory in the Juvenile Fillies.

Barry Irwin, the president of Team Valor, believes Krone will be a good fit for Banyu Dewi, a diminutive filly who raced competitively against colts in Europe two years ago.

Krone is also named to ride Quick Action in the sixth race, a first time-starter for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

"We think we've got a good shot to win this race and we wanted the best rider we could find," Irwin said. "We wanted someone who would fit the horse well because she's a tough filly to ride. We envisioned Julie because she's not big and neither is the horse. She's a great horsewoman and we have tremendous confidence in her getting the filly to relax."

Migliore disavows influence

When Richard Migliore walked into the clockers' stand at the Belmont Park training track Thursday morning, a number of horsemen approached him with the same question: "Are we canceling today?"

At first, Migliore was surprised that the question was being posed to him and became upset.

Later, after it was announced that Thursday's card at Aqueduct was canceled due to high winds - a decision Migliore had nothing to do with - Migliore tried to defuse the perception that he has control of the New York riding colony, of which he is a 22-year veteran. At this time of year, but more so during the winter, the New York riding colony is made up mostly of young riders.

Normally, the decision to cancel a racing card is made after a jockeys' vote. It's an issue that comes up more in the winter after inclement weather has impacted the track.

Thursday, a handful of jockeys met at Aqueduct, and on their recommendation management canceled the card. Migliore believes there is a perception that he often influences the younger rides to vote with him, something Migliore says simply isn't true.

"It always seems to fall on my shoulders," said Migliore, 39. "I am not going to partake in any of the votes anymore. I will absolutely respect what the jockeys decide to do. I will come to work and if I feel like the conditions are unsafe and unsatisfactory to me, I will not ride. I'm tired of people saying that what I say goes. It's a farce."

In fact, Migliore did not know Thursday's races were canceled until he arrived at Aqueduct.

"I am one of the veterans and I enjoy coming to work in the morning," Migliore said. "I'm tired of having my day ruined because of people's perceptions. As far as I'm concerned, if the conditions are safe I'll go ahead and do my job."

Migliore is having a stellar year in New York. He is the second-leading rider on the NYRA circuit with 162 winners, trailing John Velazquez (220). He has won 22 stakes in New York, trailing Jerry Bailey by five. Migliore will once again stay in New York this winter but does not plan on contending for top honors.

"I don't feel the need to ride nine a day," Migliore said. "I'll ride three, four, or five a day and concentrate on horses with a little more quality. I've won [nine] titles and I think that's great, but that's just not my focus."

Migliore said he plans to make several trips to Florida when the occasion warrants a trip. There are several horses he rides for trainers Kiaran McLaughlin and John Kimmel that he would like to keep.

Highweight next for Papua

Papua, who won a classified allowance race Nov. 7, will make his next start in the Grade 3, $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap on Thanksgiving Day. Papua, a New York-bred son of Louis Quatorze, won that six-furlong allowance race by 1 1/2 lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

The race came on the heels of an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Handicap 26 days earlier.

"I guess he was overmatched," said trainer Michael Hushion. "He was also running back close after the best race of his life if you believe in the numbers."

Hushion said that the 3-year-old Traffic Chief is getting a break following a sixth-place finish in the Empire Classic.

"He's just in light training; no plans," Hushion said. "He'd been in training all year. I thought he was doing very well going into the race. No real explanations."

Popular exercise rider dies

Betty Ann Drago, who exercised horses in New York for 20 years, died last Saturday from an apparent heart attack. She was 40.

Drago worked for such trainers as Dick Dutrow Sr., Tony Dutrow, Bob Lake, and Bob Dunham and galloped several stakes horses.

"She was a very hard-worker," said David Smith, a trainer and Drago's boyfriend for the last 14 years. "At one time, she was galloping 18 horses a day. She has a lot of friends at Belmont. I can't count the amount of people that have come up to me the last few days."

Smith said he is trying to organize a memorial service for Drago after the races on Sunday or one day next week.