11/12/2002 1:00AM

The more rain, the better Sulk's chances


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The Irish-bred filly Sulk arrived in New York at around 4 a.m. Tuesday. The rains that figure to soften up Aqueduct's turf course and enhance Sulk's chances in Saturday's Grade 2 Long Island Handicap came shortly thereafter, much to the delight of trainer John Gosden.

"She's unsuited to real firm ground,'' Gosden said Tuesday from Europe.

Sulk, a 3-year-old daughter of Selkirk, won the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp 13 months ago. She is winless in six starts this year, all six having come in Group 1 competition, where she has faced the likes of Kazzia, who came here and won the Flower Bowl Invitational, and Islington, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

In her most recent start, Sulk finished second in the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak against males on Oct. 27 at Longchamp.

"I thought she ran well to be second,'' Gosden said.

On Aug. 3, Sulk finished second to Islington in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. Eighteen days later, she finished third to Islington in the Yorkshire Oaks, but finished a head in front of Kazzia. Sulk's running style is that of a stalker.

John Velazquez is scheduled to ride Sulk in the $150,000 Long Island, the last turf stakes of the year in New York for fillies and mares. According to Gosden, Sulk will remain in the U.S. following the Long Island. It was unclear whether she would remain in training - presumably with Christophe Clement - or be retired to be a broodmare.

Sulk was assigned 118 pounds for the 12-furlong Long Island, one pound fewer than Mot Juste and the same weight as Moon Queen, another Irish-bred filly, who finished fifth as the favorite in last year's Long Island after coming over from Europe. Moon Queen has not been out since her dominating six-length victory in The Very One Handicap at Gulfstream in February.

Others expected to run include Nepenthe, Lady of the Future, Rhum, Saffron Dancer, Sunstone, Uriah, Chez Cherie, and Forest Princess.

Surface switch would help Wishful Spendor

Thursday's feature race, a third-level allowance at one mile, is scheduled for the turf. But with the heavy rain that fell Tuesday, it is likely the race will be moved to the main track.

If so, Wishful Splendor will be the horse to beat. A 3-year-old daughter of Smart Strike, Wishful Splendor has two wins and a second in her last three starts, all for trainer Nick Zito. Moreover, she is 2 for 2 at a one-turn mile and 2 for 3 over a wet track. No rider was named, but Edgar Prado, Wishful Splendor's rider the last three starts, would likely pick up the mount should Amber's Way scratch. Amber's Way looks better suited to the turf than dirt.

Shawklit Mint is another entered for the main track only and would be a factor if the track is wet. She is 3 for 3 over a wet surface and is coming off a front-running victory in a second-level allowance race at Belmont in which she ran seven furlongs in 1:22.43.

Should the race remain on the turf, it would be fairly wide open. Trainer Christophe Clement would have the probable favorite in the entry of Softly Tread and Heritiere. Softly Tread has not won in more than a year, but as a 3-year-old she beat males in the Group 3 Gladness Stakes over heavy ground.

Pillow Talk, who won her maiden at Aqueduct on the turf last December, and Tiger Babe would also be factors on the turf.

No Laurel Futurity for Funny Cide

Funny Cide, an unbeaten 2-year-old New York-bred colt, will not run in Saturday's Laurel Futurity, trainer Barclay Tagg said.

Tagg said that Funny Cide missed about a week of training after spiking a temperature and was treated with antibiotics. Should Funny Cide run again this year, it would most likely be in the $275,000 Great State Challenge Juvenile, a seven-furlong race at Sam Houston Park on Dec. 7.

Tagg said he probably wouldn't have run Funny Cide in the Laurel Futurity even had Funny Cide been healthy. Tagg said the nine-furlong race came up rather quickly, considering the horse ran three times in six weeks, capped by a neck victory in the restricted Sleepy Hollow Stakes on Oct. 19.

Tagg also said that he didn't want to run Funny Cide at nine furlongs, the distance of the Laurel Futurity and of the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

Meanwhile, Tagg will send out an intriguing 2-year-old prospect, Conservation, in Sunday's $75,000 Huntington Stakes at six furlongs.

A son of the stakes winner Tamayaz out of the unraced mare Donnan's Holly, Conservation won his maiden by 11 1/4 lengths at Delaware Park in his second start, after breaking slowly and finishing second in his debut.

"That horse looked so impressive winning I thought I'd bring him up here for the stakes,'' said Tagg, who added he has enlisted Jorge Chavez to ride.

On Tuesday, Conservation worked a conservative half-mile in 53.60 seconds over a muddy Delaware main track.

Only six are expected for the ungraded Huntington, including First Blush, Gators N Bears, Second in Command, Silver Squire, and Super Fuse.