11/22/2006 12:00AM

NYRA insists main track fine


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After a four-day break, Aqueduct's main track re-opened for training on Tuesday and racing was scheduled to resume Wednesday over that surface for the final - and most important - week of Aqueduct's fall meet.

Concerns over Aqueduct's main track prompted track officials to move three cards of racing last week to the inner track. During that time, John Passero, the New York Racing Association's director of racing surfaces, said he was able to check the base and confirm it was safe while also shaving between one-quarter to one-half inch off the cushion. Passero said he did a soil analysis on the track and deemed it in proper condition.

"I'm not concerned about the track at all," Passero said Tuesday afternoon. "I feel very good and comfortable with it."

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who breezed several horses over the track on Tuesday, was not in agreement with Passero.

"It ain't right, it's too hard," Dutrow said. "They done [messed] this thing up. This had been the best track to train on and race on since I've come to New York 25 years ago and now it's not.'"

Passero said that he "back-raked" the main track on Tuesday morning, meaning he only loosened a small percentage of the soil on top of the cushion.

Passero said he was not concerned with the track despite a forecast that calls for rain late Thursday and into Friday. Wet track conditions forced NYRA to scrap nearly three full cards of racing on the main track and move three more cards - last Friday through Sunday - to the inner track. The inner track opens for a four-month period on Nov. 29.

On Nov. 9, after management scrapped that day's card, Passero said that the clay base of the main track was not in good enough shape to withstand a large amount of rain. Since the main track opened on Oct. 25, the track has absorbed more than seven inches of rain.

NYRA officials on Tuesday said they hadn't heard of any complaints about the main track from horsemen who trained over it.

"If there was a problem I'm sure I would have heard about it," said Bill Nader, NYRA's senior vice president. "Our plans are to run these races on the main track. If the situation unfolds that would mandate a surface switch, we would do it. There are no plans to do that."

Though there hasn't been a turf race run at Aqueduct since Nov. 5, Passero hasn't given up returning to that surface before too long.

"If we can get over this rainy period in not too bad a shape we can start racing on it again," he said.

'Nobiz' still on track for Remsen

Though trainer Barclay Tagg pre-entered Nobiz Like Shobiz to the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs on Dec. 1, he still wants to run his star 2-year-old in Saturday's $200,000 Remsen Stakes here.

"I don't want to go anywhere but the Remsen," Tagg said Tuesday in his Belmont Park office. "I might not go anywhere if he doesn't run there. It's a real longshot that we'd go out there."

Tagg said he pre-entered in the Delta Jackpot in case Aqueduct's main track wasn't usable by this weekend.

Nobiz Like Shobiz figures to go off a strong favorite in the Remsen, contested at 1 1/8 miles around two turns. He won his career debut by 10 3/4 lengths at Belmont before finishing second to Scat Daddy in the Grade 1 Champagne. Nobiz LIke Shobiz had some trouble at the start of the Champagne.

Tagg elected to skip the Breeders' Cup Juvenile because he didn't like the idea of running such an inexperienced colt back in three weeks.

"I didn't want to go to the Breeders' Cup," Tagg said. "He's a big horse, we took our time with him, and we ran out of time as far as the Breeders' Cup was concerned."

Nobiz Like Shobiz has been breezing consistently since the Champagne, and on Sunday he went five furlongs in 1:00.12, the second-fastest of 34 breezes at the distance.

Others pointing to the Remsen are Air Lord, Kong the King, Marina Market, Sightseeing, Timber Reserve, and Zanjero. Mint Slewlep and Summer Doldrums are possible.

Day Pass headed to Godolphin

One horse who won't be running in the Remsen is the undefeated Day Pass, the impressive winner of the Nashua in his last start.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Day Pass has been shipped to his Florida stable at Palm Meadows and that the son of Five Star Day is likely to be transferred from Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Darley Stable to his Godolphin Racing operation. That would mean the colt would be shipped to Dubai and turned over to trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

McLaughlin said that he was not upset about the change and that he hopes the colt goes on to do great things next year whether in Dubai or in North America.

"I'm very much on their team," McLaughlin said. "He owns the horse and I get the privilege of training him for a while."

Kimmel eyes big weekend

In addition to saddling Breeders' Cup Classic third-place finisher Premium Tap in Friday's Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, trainer John Kimmel will have plenty of stakes activity in New York this weekend.

On Friday, he will run Classy Charm in the Grade 2, $150,000 Top Flight Handicap, while on Saturday he will send out Timber Reserve in the Remsen and Grand Merger in the Demoiselle.

The one-turn mile of the Top Flight should suit Classy Charm just fine. Her last three wins have come under those conditions, albeit at Belmont. In 2004, she won a one-turn mile maiden race over Aqueduct's main track.

"She prefers a race with a little more pace in front of her, like a one-turn mile where there's a more contentious pace and they come back to her a little bit," Kimmel said.

Malibu Mint, who finished 12th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, is expected for the Top Flight, as are Carmandia, Emerald Earrings, Miss Shop, Mo Cuishle, and possibly Notimetoquit, No Reason, and Witch Woman.

Though Grand Merger will be meeting open company for the first time in the Demoiselle, the New York-bred filly is certainly bred to handle the class jump. As a daughter of A.P. Indy out of the dam Immerse, Grand Merger is a full sister to the Grade 1 winner Stephen Got Even. Grand Merger is coming off a three-quarter-length victory in the Maid of the Mist Stakes for statebreds on Oct. 21.

"I thought it was a good step forward, and I think she can certainly take another step forward," Kimmel said. "Any kind of graded black type for this filly will make her worth a fortune."

A large field is expected for the Demoiselle, including Cohiba Miss, Duchess of Stanco, Get Ready Bertie, Grand Merger, Miss Goodnight, My Golden Quest, Rivanna River, Successful Outlook, and Super Natascha.