03/11/2005 1:00AM

Main track will reopen on Friday

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Bank Audit, winning the Interborough on New Year's Day, will go next in the Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Racing on Aqueduct's inner track will continue through Thursday, with the opening of the main track now scheduled for Friday, New York Racing Association officials said.

The main track, which was scheduled to open on Wednesday, will open one day before the Grade 3, $150,000 Gotham Stakes for 3-year-olds is to be run. Thus, the Gotham will be conducted as a one-turn mile race as scheduled. This is the second time that the opening of the main track has been pushed back. It was originally scheduled to open March 9.

Track superintendent John Passero said there were still several icy spots on the main track Friday. An overnight storm left a dusting of snow on the main track Friday morning. But temperatures warmed up to near 40 degrees, and all of the snow melted off the main track by midafternoon.

Passero said he was hoping to get as much water off the surface as possible before more rain and snow moved in Friday night. Little to no accumulation was expected from that storm.

Passero said he would like to grade the track for three or four days before allowing horses to train on it. Under ideal conditions, Passero said, he could open the main track for training on Wednesday or Thursday. Dry weather is forecast for Sunday through Thursday.

Lakow said that because of the entry schedule - entries for Wednesday and Thursday are taken 96 hours out - it made more sense to delay the main track's opening until Friday.

Bank Audit going to Distaff

Bank Audit, a 2 1/2-length winner of an optional claiming race here on Wednesday, will run back in the Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap on March 26, trainer Frank Laboccetta said.

In winning Wednesday's race, Bank Audit bounced back from a second-place finish in the Correction Handicap last month. Bank Audit ran six furlongs in 1:09.48 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90.

Laboccetta said the Distaff was in the plans plan even after Bank Audit was upset in the Correction as the 1-2 choice. Though Bank Audit has enjoyed most of her success at six furlongs, Laboccetta believes the filly will appreciate the added distance of the seven-furlong Distaff.

"I think she'll love seven-eighths," he said. "You could see at the wire she was just getting in gear. I think the bigger turns will help her, too.''

Sabellina rejoins Aquilino barn

Sabellina, one of the top New York-bred turf fillies of 2004, rejoined trainer Joe Aquilino at his Aqueduct barn this week. She had her first day galloping on Friday.

Sabellina won 4 of 9 starts last year, including the Yaddo Handicap at Saratoga. In her last start of the year, Sabellina finished second behind On the Bus in the Ticonderoga at Belmont last Oct. 23.

Aquilino said Sabellina was turned out in Ocala, Fla., for the winter and began light training there as well. Aquilino said Sabellina would likely be able to make it back to the races in late April or May, and one of her first objectives would be the Mt. Vernon Handicap for statebreds on June 19 at Belmont.

"She looks like she won't take long to get to the races," Aquilino said.

Decisions, decisions

Similar-looking incidents on consecutive days resulted in different rulings by the stewards.

In Thursday's eighth race, when Say Hey Willie came out on Mrs. Doyle in the stretch and won by a nose, the stewards ruled that Mrs. Doyle was bearing out on her own and Say Hey Willie was simply following her. Thus, the stewards denied an objection made by jockey Alan Garcia.

In Friday's nightcap, Key to Love beat Big Tease by a head, but was bearing out on that horse in the stretch. Jockey Jean-Luc Samyn, the rider of Big Tease, lodged an objection, and the stewards disqualified Key to Love, ridden by Norberto Arroyo Jr., from first and placed her second for interference.

Can Stellianos handle class raise?

Stellianos, a three-time winner over the inner track this meet in claiming competition, will try allowance foes in Sunday's $48,000 feature.

Stellianos has won five of his last seven starts, and has gone 3 for 5 over the inner track this winter for trainer Mitch Friedman. He has done it by unleashing a powerful stretch kick.

Stellianos will be coupled in the wagering with Alphabetical, who figures to help set a legitimate pace.

The horse to beat is Epoxy, who returns from a 10-month layoff for leading trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. Epoxy recorded two front-running wins over the inner track before going off form last spring. Dutrow is a .320 hitter with horses off layoffs of six months or more.

* Jockey Fernando Jara will begin a five-day suspension on Monday for failing to ride out his mount, Lively Up Yourself, in Wednesday's ninth race. The suspension was reduced from seven days after Jara waived his right of appeal.