03/30/2010 11:00PM

Nite Light tries Excelsior again


Nite Light, who finished second as the favorite in last year's Excelsior, is back for another try in the Grade 3, $200,000 stakes race for older males at 1 1/8 miles.

Nite Light developed a reputation as a marathon specialist last year, but has run decently at nine furlongs. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the primary reason he entered Nite Light in the Excelsior was because two stakes races at 1 5/8 miles here failed to fill.

Nite Light, who usually does his best running on or near the pace, could vie for the lead with National Pride. Others entered include Seniors Pride, Goldsville, More Than Reason, and Stargleam.

Donk hopes turf opens Friday

Nearly six inches of rain fell over Queens earlier this week, forcing the cancellation of turf racing on both Wednesday and Thursday. New York Racing Association officials are hopeful the turf course will available Friday.

So is trainer David Donk, who has Shrimp Dancer entered in a first-level allowance race for New York-breds, which goes as the nightcap. Shrimp Dancer has a win and two thirds on the turf, but stayed in training all winter, running some respectable races on the dirt. Most recently, he finished fifth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths by Awesome Act in the Grade 3 Gotham.

"He was an immature horse so he's only going to get better,'' Donk said. "We always felt he was better grass than dirt. I was glad he ran so well on dirt and got some more experience.''

While Shrimp Dancer is 1 for 3 on the turf, the remainder of the field is 2 for 46 on the grass.

Donk got the main track meeting off to a good start Wednesday when he sent out Sapphire Sky ($6.40) to a nose victory over Rightly So in the $60,000 Indistinctly Stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs.

Familiar faces return to jockey room

Several New York veteran jockeys have returned and plan to call New York their home base beginning immediately with a few side trips to Keeneland and Churchill.

John Velazquez and Eibar Coa rode here on Wednesday with Edgar Prado and Cornelio Velasquez named to ride beginning Thursday.

Roger Sutton has taken over as the agent for Velasquez. Sutton had represented Anna Napravnik here this winter. Following this weekend's races, Napravnik is leaving for the Mid-Atlantic region, where she will be represented by Mark Mace.