12/05/2008 1:00AM

Pair of allowance races sub for a canceled stakes


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It's an ominous sign when the first scheduled stakes of the inner-track meet, the $75,000 Garland of Roses, fails to fill. But with only four fillies and mares entered, the six-furlong race was not carded for Saturday as scheduled, but could be brought back Sunday under allowance, as opposed to handicap, conditions.

Thus, the co-features on Saturday at Aqueduct are first-level allowance races, one going six furlongs, the other a mile and 70 yards. A race from last Jan. 31 could be the key to finding the winner of both heats.

In the fourth race on Jan. 31, a first-time starter named Rodman rallied from well off the pace to win a six-furlong event by five lengths over Darkside Holiday. Rodman, who hasn't raced since March 26, heads a six-horse field in the third while Darkside Holiday runs in the eighth.

Trainer Michael Hushion said Rodman suffered "a physical problem" after he finished second to Mint Lane - who subsequently won the Dwyer Stakes - here Marcho26. The issue required Rodman to be out of training for three months. Hushion said Rodman is antsy to run.

"He's acting like he did before," Hushion said. "We need to get him over there, he's very full of himself."

Still, Hushion wants to see a race from Rodman before getting too excited.

"When they come back off a layoff due to injury there's too much of a question," Hushion said.

Rodman's main competition figures to come from Good Card and Austin Laviva Baby. Good Card comes off a second-place finish in the Thunder Rumble Stakes on Nov. 9. His last victory came exactly one year ago in a New York-bred second-level allowance. Austin Laviva Baby has won his last two starts against cheaper.

After finishing second to Rodman, Darkside Holiday came up with sore shins and needed time off. He won his second start back from a layoff before nearly clipping heels in a money allowance race at Keeneland on Oct. 11. He finished fourth in a nonwinners-of-two-lifetime allowance in the mud here on Nov. 15.

As a son of Harlan's Holiday, Darkside Holiday should appreciate stretching out in distance.

"We're happy to stretch him out now," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "We've always liked this colt."

Spanky Fischbein, Flint River, and Alexandros are others that merit consideration in the eighth.

* Sunday's card also includes the final two turf races of the year at Aqueduct.