10/29/2001 12:00AM

New York gets more horses


JAMAICA, N.Y. - To some, it's a scary thought. To others, it is a howling good time. Whatever the case, for the next six months, New York horseplayers will be getting their tricks and treats at Aqueduct beginning with Wednesday's Halloween Day nine-race card.

With a few exceptions early in the meet, Aqueduct will race Wednesdays through Sundays with first post daily at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. Aqueduct will be open Tuesday, Nov. 5 (Election Day) and Monday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) and be closed Wednesdays Nov. 7 and 14.

The first 19 days of the meet will be conducted over the main track before racing switches to the winterized inner track on Dec. 5.

The approval of Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs), the uncertainty of the stabling situation in south Florida, and an early closing of The Meadowlands could all benefit Aqueduct this fall and winter.

While it is unclear when the VLTs will be installed at Aqueduct, they are almost certain to have an immediate impact on the purse structure in New York.

Many horsemen used to shipping into Hialeah at this time of year to prepare for the Gulfstream meet will have to make alternative plans. Hialeah is closed and is unlikely to open for training. The Meadowlands, in northern New Jersey, ends its live meet on Nov. 10 and horses must be off the grounds the following day.

Some New York horsemen will lengthen their stay in New York and/or increase the number of horses they keep here this winter. Several New Jersey outfits, such as Willard Thompson, Ben Perkins Jr., and Tim Hills are inquiring about stall space.

"I think it's going to be a good winter meet,'' said Mike Lakow, the New York Racing Association's racing secretary.

NYRA will offer 26 stakes worth $3.025 million in purse money for the fall meet. The highlight is the Grade 1 $350,000 Cigar Mile on Nov. 24, topping a HolidayFest weekend that includes the Fall Highweight, Top Flight Handicap, Remsen Stakes, and Demoiselle.

Red Bullet, the 2000 Preakness winner, is pointing to the Cigar Mile as are Peeping Tom, last year's Cigar Mile runner-up, and Yonaguska, winner of the Sport Page Handicap last Saturday.

The stakes get under way Wednesday with the Grade 2, $100,000 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs. The two-turn race features the return of Street Cry to the races after a seven-month layoff. Street Cry, who finished third in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, suffered an ankle injury in April preparing for the Kentucky Derby, but has been training steadily since mid-summer.

"He's pretty fit, he benefited from the time off and he's been working for a long time,'' said Laurent Barbarin, assistant trainer for Godolphin Racing. "We're expecting a good run.''

David Flores, who rode Street Cry as a 2-year-old, will ride Street Cry from post 7 under highweight of 118 pounds.

Among his chief competitors will be Dayton Flyer, a son of Honour and Glory who is coming off two sharp victories since being transformed into a front-runner.

"From Day One I loved this horse,'' trainer Bob Barbara said. "He was a big, gangly, heavy horse. Hopefully, he's turned into a racehorse. He's been such a lazy, laid-back horse. He didn't care; he didn't show interest. Last time he was very game, the time before he was very game. I'm hoping it continues, he stays focused and he continues to run like he's run the last two times.''

Jorge Chavez has ridden Dayton Flyer to victory in his last two starts. But Chavez has moved his tack to Churchill. Eibar Coa has picked up the mount.

After nearly stealing the Jim Dandy at 29-1, Free of Love has tailed off, finishing fifth in the Travers and seventh in the Indiana Derby. Still, he returns to his home track and could be a factor from just off the pace under Richard Migliore.