12/30/2005 12:00AM

Make room for Dominguez

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Secret Forest (8) runs second to Lilah in the Garland of Roses, the final race of her career.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Friday may have been the second to last day of the calendar year, but it may eventually turn out to be the first day of the rest of Ramon Dominguez's riding career.

Dominguez, a dominant figure on the Mid-Atlantic scene in recent years, officially joined the New York jockey colony on Friday at Aqueduct. He had one winner, two seconds and a third from four mounts, the win coming aboard Knox ($12) in the day's featured $50,000 allowance race.

Provided things go as they should, Dominguez will likely be making many more trips to the winner's circle this winter at Aqueduct. And if that is the case, there is a very good chance he will become a mainstay on the New York scene.

With racing in Maryland struggling, Dominguez decided to move his tack this winter. Though he could have gone to south Florida and Gulfstream Park, Dominguez cited New York's better purse structure and the close proximity to his Maryland-based family as reasons why he chose to ride here.

"We didn't make our decision totally based on money," said Dominguez, who is represented by agent Steve Rushing. "It was a combination of where our supporting outfits were going to be. Not to say that we didn't have a little bit of business in Florida, but realistically speaking, it made a little more sense to come here."

Dominguez ranks fifth in the nation in wins this year with 310. He ranks 10th in earnings with more than $10.6 million. Dominguez led the nation in wins in 2001 (431) and 2003 (453).

Dominguez and his wife, Sharon, live in Elkton, Md., and have a 1-year-old son, Alexander, and another baby due in the middle of 2006.

Dominguez spent the summer in Saratoga, where he won 20 races from 196 mounts, putting him seventh in the rider standings. In 2004, he won 13 races from 50 starts at Saratoga while coming in from Delaware Park.

While Dominguez is hesitant to commit to becoming a full-time New York rider, he indicated that if he did well at Aqueduct, he would stay for the Belmont spring meet.

"We'd definitely love to do well here and have a chance to decide whether to try Belmont," he said.

Dominguez had eight mounts on Saturday and is named on five horses Sunday.

Morrison dissatisfied with tracks

Trainer John Morrison kept Grade 1 winner Acey Deucey out of Sunday's $65,000 Interborough Handicap in part because of his dissatisfaction with the tracks at Aqueduct and Belmont Park.

Morrison is based at Belmont, and he believes the training track is inconsistent. He also believes Aqueduct's inner track has been biased toward speed this winter.

"I'm not happy with the way the racetracks are here and [Aqueduct]," Morrison said while standing in his Belmont barn's shed row. "Here it's inconsistent. One path is rock hard and two feet out it's too deep. I haven't been able to do with her what I really wanted."

Acey Deucey is a closer and Morrison doesn't feel that her style could be successful at Aqueduct.

"Last winter, I thought the track played pretty fair," Morrison said. "This year, other than a couple of days, there's been a speed bias."

Acey Deucey, who won the Grade 1 Prioress in July, wrenched an ankle when eighth in the Test in August at Saratoga. She returned to the races in last month's Garland of Roses, where she finished seventh of 10.

Morrison has targeted the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie on Feb. 18 at Laurel Park for Acey Deucey, but is uncertain where or when she may run prior to that race. Laurel hosts the $60,000 What a Summer Stakes on Jan. 21, which serves as a prep for the Barbara Fritchie.

Secret Forest retired

Secret Forest, who came with a flying finish to be second in the Garland of Roses, has been retired, trainer George Weaver said Friday. A daughter of Forestry, Secret Forest had a record of 3-4-2 from 12 starts and banked $134,905 for owner Agnes Peace.

Weaver said that Secret Forest came out of the Garland of Roses, a race she lost by a head to Lilah, with a chip in her ankle.

"She's been a high-maintenance horse to keep sound," Weaver said. "She had a lot of heart, a lot of talent. If she was younger, maybe you take the chip out and try to bring her back. She's worth more as a broodmare, so it didn't make sense to roll the dice."

Morales returns Sunday

Apprentice Pablo Morales, who has not ridden since Nov. 30 because of a torn rotator cuff, is named to ride four horses on Sunday. Morales, the leading apprentice at the Belmont and Aqueduct fall meets, has been getting on horses since Dec. 26.

"He's got all the talent in the world, we just need some luck," said Drew Mollica, who has taken over as Morales's agent.