10/30/2003 12:00AM

A new animal on turf

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Tam's Terms wins the Henry S. Clark Stakes at Pimlico, one of his four victories this year.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There has been no stopping Tam's Terms since he made the switch from dirt to grass in May 2002.

Tam's Terms, a winner of seven of eight grass races, seeks his first graded stakes win in Saturday's Grade 2 Knickerbocker Handicap at Aqueduct.

Fourteen were entered in the 1 1/8-mile turf race, including also-eligibles Move Those Chains and Willard Straight. The 118-pound highweights are Quest Star, who won the Grade 2 Pan American in March, and Slew Valley, who has not won a race since June 2001.

Tam's Terms, a 5-year-old, has won four of his five starts this year, including three ungraded stakes at three different tracks. In his only loss this year, Tam's Terms finished 10th in the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga.

"Nothing went his way that day," said Larry Murray, trainer of Tam's Terms. "He was in a sandwich going into the first turn, and I think he got flustered and didn't relax. His best trip is to keep him in the clear - he doesn't do well in between horses."

Tam's Terms, who is stabled at Laurel Park, came with a five-wide move to win his last start, the John Henry Stakes at The Meadowlands.

Horacio Karamanos rides Tam's Terms, who carries 114 pounds and breaks from post 11.

Quest Star, the likely favorite in the $150,000 Knickerbocker, finished third in his last start, the Kentucky Cup Turf, but was placed second because he was bothered by the winner, Art Variety.

John Velazquez, who rides Quest Star, was aboard the colt when he won a maiden race on the dirt in January 2002. The next time Velazquez rode Quest Star was in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Belmont in July, when he finished second.

"He's actually a very nice horse," said Velazquez, who rides Quest Star for trainer Elliott Walden. "The day of the Bowling Green, the turf was too soft for him."

With a few days of dry and unseasonably warm weather, Aqueduct's turf course should dry out some after getting inundated with heavy rain earlier in the week. Saturday will be the first day of turf racing at the meet, which started Wednesday.

A year ago, Del Mar Show would have towered over this field, but the 6-year-old appears to have lost a step after going 1 for 5 this year.

Better Talk Now drops back to a more suitable distance after losses in two 1 1/2-mile races. Dawn of the Condor has lost eight consecutive starts since winning last year's Knickerbocker.