03/27/2008 12:00AM

McLaughlin pair to try Polyflex shoes

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Wild Hoots and Wow Me Free are already solid contenders for Saturday's $100,000 Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct. But the two Kiaran McLaughlin-trained fillies may have an added advantage when they attempt to win the Grade 3 race for fillies and mares.

Both 4-year-old fillies will be wearing Polyflex shoes for the first time in the Next Move. Made out of polyurethane and attached with glue to a horse's hoof, the Polyflex shoe is designed to help the foot absorb more concussion, according to its inventor, Curtis Burns. Burns said the ground hits the horses' hoof wall "as if they were barefoot."

The shoe, an alternative to the traditional aluminum shoe, works particularly well for horses with sensitive heels, sheared heels, and quarter cracks, according to Burns.

Burns and his wife, Diane - who split time between Wellington, Fla., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. - invented the shoe nearly three years ago. They have a growing list of clients that includes Steve Asmussen, whom Burns said has used these shoes on Pyro, one of the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby.

McLaughlin began using the Polyflex shoes about three years ago, and many of his recent winners - including Elusive Value, Nkosi Reigns, and Wafi City in New York and Stream of Gold and Teide at Gulfstream - have been equipped with them.

"They're staying on and wearing a lot better than three years ago," said Art Magnuson, the New York assistant to McLaughlin

The biggest downside to the shoe is cost. Burns said it costs $400 to $500 for the Polyflex shoes compared to $100 to $200 for conventional shoes.

"They're not a cure-all," Burns said. "I don't try to say that every foot issue I'm going to be able to put these on and you'll be on your way."

Wow Me Free won the Ladies Handicap here in December and has not run since. Magnuson said the filly has had some setbacks due to her feet and has been helped greatly by the Polyflex shoes. Wow Me Free has worn the Polyflex shoes for her last three works, two of which were bullets.

Magnuson said Wild Hoots, second in the Rare Treat last out, has been training in the Polyflex shoes of late and has "responded favorably with the shoes in the morning," Magnuson said.

Others pointing to the Next Move include Runway Rosie, Stage Luck, and Peach Flambe.

Ferriola ready to resume training

Pete Ferriola has arrived in New York and is simply awaiting a worker's compensation insurance certificate before officially taking over as the private trainer for Paraneck Stable.

Ferriola, 65, was a three-time leading trainer on this circuit before retiring in 2000. He has been allowed on the Aqueduct grounds this week on a visitor's pass issued by the New York Racing Association, and he attended the races Wednesday.

"I am glad to be back," Ferriola said. "For how long, I don't know. As long as we do good, I'll be here."

Injured Arboleda to miss eight weeks

Jockey Aldo Arboleda will be out of action until May after suffering a cracked T-6 vertebra in a spill here on March 6.

Arboleda, who lost his status as an apprentice rider just days before the spill, has returned to Panama to visit family and convalesce. His agent, Paul DeMarco, said doctors told Arboleda he could miss up to eight weeks of action.

DeMarco said Arboleda may ride this summer at Monmouth Park.

"I have a lot of friends over there that'll help him," DeMarco said. "That would be the place for him to start back, realistically."

Arboleda rode 17 winners from 217 mounts during the inner-track meet.

Wood Memorial on NBC

The Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial will be broadcast live on NBC on April 5 and has been moved from race 10 (5:50 p.m.) to race 9 (5:15 p.m.) on the 11-race program. The one-hour broadcast will also include the Santa Anita Derby.

"We are thrilled that we were able to work with NBC and get the Wood Memorial the national television exposure it deserves," said NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward. "Not only is the Wood Memorial an important historic race, but it has become a key race in determining future classic winners and champions."

As of Wednesday, the Wood was coming up light numbers-wise. War Pass, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner who finished last in the Tampa Bay Derby, heads the prospective field. Also expected to run are Court Vision, Giant Moon, Spurrier, Tale of Ekati, and Texas Wildcatter. Roman Emperor is possible.

* Jockey Stewart Elliott won four races on Wednesday's card. He won the opener with Mister Nobody ($6), the fourth with Ojibway ($3.90), the sixth with Cizi ($5.80), and the seventh with Precious Too ($6.90). His only loss came aboard Doodling (race 5), a mount he picked up when Carlos Cruz did not come up from Philadelphia to ride.