03/09/2004 12:00AM

Main track next task for Dutrow


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Richard Dutrow Jr. dominated the inner-track meet by saddling 47 winners, including a recent stretch of eight straight days with at least one stakes or allowance win.

The spring meet may not be "all Dutrow all the time," but the 44-year-old trainer did win Aqueduct's spring meet title in 2001 and 2002. And judging from his entrants on Day 2 of this 38-day session, Dutrow-trained runners are still a major force to be reckoned with.

"I've got high expectations coming into the meet, but it's still going to be tough to win like we did on the inner track," said Dutrow. "We had a lot of horses that were ready to run, and a lot of them got through their conditions and things worked out. We're definitely going to be 'live' over the spring, and I'm looking forward to getting back on the outer track."

Dutrow's runners look "live" in the two toughest races on Thursday's card, beginning with the entry of , who respectively drew the rail and the outside post in an optional claimer for older fillies and mares at one mile.

Twist and Pop goes for her fourth straight win and, amazingly, her third win in nine days. Claimed for $12,500 by Greg Martin the day after Christmas, Twist and Pop was claimed from her second straight win just last Wednesday by Dutrow, who wheeled the 5-year-old mare back on Saturday for a big-figure win in an entry-level allowance.

After winning six of 11 starts as a 3-year-old in 2003, including all four starts on Aqueduct's main track, Elegant Mercedes received a freshening after trying a Grade 3 stakes at Calder in early December. She recently returned with a runner-up finish in the slop at Gulfstream.

Five rivals oppose the Dutrow entry: Lavender Lass, a close second in the recent Carson Hollow Stakes; Biogio's Beauty, third in the Rare Treat last out; City Sister, a winner on the main track last spring; and the Michael Brice-trained entry of Our Tune and Private Port.

In the eighth race, a six-furlong allowance for nonwinners of three lifetime, the Dutrow-trained Champion Ri drew the outside in a short field of six older males. He may be a slim favorite in the wake of a rail-skimming win that earned him a new top Beyer Speed Figure of 92.

Champion Ri is favorably drawn outside early-speed types Fighting Roy Kelly, Courting Concorde, and Blue Skies Ahead. Oration and Wild Maple complete the field.