09/20/2005 11:00PM

Penn National track report

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Since there are no lights on the turf course and the sun now sets before the first race, grass racing appeared done for the year at Penn National Race Course.

Not necessarily, however.

The track has asked the State Horse Racing Commission for permission to run a special afternoon card on Breeders' Cup Day, Oct. 29, that could include several turf races, weather permitting.

Penn National's program would begin at 12:55 p.m. Eastern and races would be offered in between simulcasts of the Breeders' Cup from Belmont Park.

According to Richard Schnaars, Penn National's general manager and vice president, the track will keep the inner rail up on the turf course in hopes of running two or three grass races on the matinee program.

* Management reassured the jockey colony that 11 assistant starters would be available at the starting gate beginning Wednesday night. As a result, live racing resumed after being cut short twice last weekend.

The jockeys had walked off after the second race last Saturday, claiming there was an insufficient number of assistant starters, creating a safety hazard. One night earlier, the jockeys refused to ride after two races because they felt too much water was on the track following an early-evening shower.

"We have quickly and more than sufficiently dealt with the concerns of the jockeys with regards to the starting gate," said Schnaars, "and now it is time for the riders to step up and support the local program so we may race without the thought of more unexpected cancellations."