04/28/2003 11:00PM

New York Hero in Withers

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - New York Hero, who jumped into the Kentucky Derby picture by winning the Grade 2 Lane's End at Turfway Park in March, will run on Derby Day, but not in Louisville.

New York Hero is among the expected starters for Saturday's $150,000 Withers at Aqueduct. A top effort from New York Hero in the one-mile Withers, a Grade 3 stakes, would likely lead to the colt running in the Preakness at Pimlico on May 17.

New York Hero worked Tuesday at Aqueduct under his new rider for the Withers, Javier Castellano. New York Hero covered six furlongs in 1:11.83 over a fast track. It was New York Hero's first work since finishing fourth, beaten nine lengths by Empire Maker, in the Wood Memorial on April 12.

New York Hero, trained by Jennifer Pedersen and owned by Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable, came out of the Wood, which was run over a muddy track, with a quarter crack in his left front foot. Pedersen said she lost four days of training with New York Hero, who was outfitted with a quarter-crack patch.

"Four jumps out of the gate I knew he wasn't going to handle [the track]," said Pedersen, who attributes the quarter crack to the sealed racetrack in the Wood. "You could see him scrambling."

Paragallo said his decision to replace Norberto Arroyo Jr., who rode New York Hero to victory in the Lane's End, had nothing to do with Arroyo's ride in the Wood. In the Grade 1 Wood, New York Hero, who came out after the start and bumped with some of his rivals, set the pace for six furlongs before tiring.

The other horses probable for the Withers are Alysweep, Atfirst Blush, Awesome Time, Halo Homewrecker, and Stanislavsky.

Voodoo Dancer in Beaugay

An outstanding field is taking shape for Saturday's $100,000 Beaugay, the first grass stakes for fillies and mares in New York.

On Tuesday from Payson Park, trainer Christophe Clement said Voodoo Dancer, last year's Beaugay winner, is a definite starter and that Dress to Thrill, scratched from Saturday's off-the-turf Calder Breeders' Cup Handicap, was a possibility.

Dress to Thrill, who won the Grade 1 Matriarch in her last start on Dec. 1, was assigned high weight of 121 pounds. Voodoo Dancer is next in the weights at 120.

The other expected starters for the Grade 3 Beaugay are Owsley (118), Wonder Again (118), Delta Princess (113), Miss Gazon (113), She's Vested (113), and Vespers (113).

New York-bred stakes get boost

The New York Racing Association will raise purses on 11 New York-bred stakes that will be run at Belmont's spring and fall meets and at Saratoga. The stakes will be increased from $75,000 to $100,000.

"We're pleased to be able to raise these purses, especially in light of the increased quality of the New York breeding program," said Mike Lakow, NYRA racing secretary and handicapper. "Every New York-bred stake at Belmont and Saratoga will now carry a purse of at least $100,000."

Good weather, more grass racing

The turf course has been used sparingly at Aqueduct because of an abundance of rain this spring. Through Tuesday, only six races had been run on the grass since the course opened on April 18.

With fine weather in store for Thursday, three grass races have been carded, including the feature, a mile race for fillies and mares.

Among the nine horses entered in the third-level allowance race is Born Something, the likely favorite, who is trained by Clement.

Born Something, who will be ridden by Jean-Luc Samyn, easily won her last two starts, both allowance races. She drew post 7.

I Met Somebody, who ran against much tougher last year, is a contender to complete the exacta.

Madame X Ski was entered main track only.