02/25/2004 12:00AM

Nature's cooperating this year


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A year ago, when Jerry Porcelli, Aqueduct's track superintendent, looked at the main track from his office window he didn't like what he saw. A year later, Porcelli likes the view quite a bit better.

Aqueduct's main track is scheduled to open March 10, and Porcelli is hopeful that date will stick. Last year, because of terrible weather conditions, the main track opened on March 21, nine days after its scheduled opening. The delay meant that the Gotham Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep, was run at a mile and 70 yards on the inner track around two turns, rather than at a mile on the main track. The delay also forced management to change the distances of a pair of sprint stakes, the Toboggan and Broadway, from seven furlongs to six furlongs.

The Northeast was hit with awful weather in December and January this year and endured days on end of Arctic temperatures and snow, but February has brought warmer temperatures and lighter precipitation. This weekend, the forecast calls for highs in the 50's and sunny skies.

"Looking at my logs from last year, we are a good two weeks ahead of schedule with getting the main track ready," Porcelli said Wednesday. "Last year at this time we had all kinds of ice and large piles of snow. The low temperatures were in the teens, with the highs only reaching 30."

Porcelli said another complication he and his crew faced last year was dirt from the inner track blowing onto the main track, which left the surface uneven.

"We had to blow snow off the inner track, and it's hard not to blow off cushion when you do that and that dirt blew onto the main track," Porcelli said.

The last scheduled day of racing on the inner track, which opened on Dec. 3, is March 7.

Bush not pushing Scary Bob

Scary Bob, the runner-up in last Saturday's Best Turn, will not run back in the $200,000 Gotham on March 20, according to his trainer, Tom Bush.

In the six-furlong Best Turn, Scary Bob was beaten five lengths by Redskin Warrior, who is being pointed to the Grade 3 Gotham.

Bush said he "wouldn't rule out" the Bay Shore on April 10, "although that is doubtful. I do want to give him about six or seven weeks in between races, because he deserves a little break."

Bush said one of his summer goals for Scary Bob, who won the Maria's Mon Stakes here in December, is the $100,000 Mike Lee at Belmont Park on June 26. The seven-furlong Mike Lee is the first leg of the Big Apple Triple for New York-bred 3-year-olds and is followed by the 1 1/16-mile New York Derby at Finger Lakes and the 1 1/8-mile Albany at Saratoga Race Course.

"I don't know that he will participate in all those races, because I don't know that he wants to go that far," Bush said.

Bush said he is pointing Taghkanic, a half-sister to Private Emblem, to the $75,000 Broadway Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares on March 13.

"She's eligible for a two-other-than, but I'm anxious to get her on the outer track," Bush said.

Last November, Taghkanic, a daughter of Indian Charlie, won back-to-back starts in impressive fashion over the main track. She has lost her last two starts over the inner track.

Busher taking shape

Exclusively Wild, who returned $52.50 when she won the Nijana Stakes by four lengths on Feb. 11, will be a shorter price if she starts in Saturday's $75,000 Busher Stakes.

Dominick Schettino, who trains and co-owns Exclusively Wild, said he would make a final decision on the filly's status for the Busher after she trains on Thursday.

"I'll do a little something with her like I did before her last race," Schettino said. "I let her open-gallop a couple days before the race, and she was aggressive when she ran. I guess you could say she might bounce off that race, but I'm going by her [attitude] and the way she is training and eating."

Among the expected starters for the 1 1/16-mile Busher for 3-year-old fillies are Please Take Me Out, Taittinger Rose, Showmesomelove, Fond, My Ish Kee, and Classic Example. Mistda, who worked a half-mile Wednesday at Aqueduct in 52.87 seconds, is also possible.

Showmesomelove worked five furlongs in 1:00.99 at Belmont Park on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Classic Example worked three furlongs in 36.84 at Belmont.

Two head feature cast

Two Busher nominees, Becky in Pink and Miss Park Place, are entered in Friday's $44,000 allowance feature at a mile and 70 yards.

Lila Paige, Novelista, and Baymont are the other runners in the first-level allowance race.

Becky in Pink and Lila Paige are the horses to beat.

Becky in Pink has been freshened since finishing third at this level on Dec. 27. The winner of that race, Island Sand, returned and won the Busanda Stakes in her next start.

On Monday, Lila Paige, who easily won a two-turn maiden race in her last start, worked a bullet three furlongs in 35.42 at Belmont.

Miss Park Place, who finished fourth in the Nijana, and Novelista, who raced nine time before getting her maiden win, are the likely pacesetters.

Baymont stretches out in her first start for Schettino, who claimed her for $40,000 on Feb. 7.

* On Wednesday at Aqueduct, Risky Trick, preparing for Saturday's John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park, worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:02.27 over a track that produced slow times throughout the morning.