11/27/2003 1:00AM

Prado's best year may get better


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Jockey Edgar Prado will put the finishing touches on a career-best season this weekend while riding in major stakes at Aqueduct and Hollywood Park.

After Sunday, Prado, 36, will not ride again in the United States until opening day at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 3. Prado will travel to Japan to take part in a jockey challenge championship Dec. 6 and 7 and will spend the rest of December on vacation with his family.

When Prado returns, he will be staring at a very important milestone: 5,000 career wins. Through Thursday, Prado had 4,980 winners. This year, through Nov. 25, Prado has earned $18,202,822 in purses, which surpasses Prado's career-best mark of $18,027,329, set in 2002. Only Jerry Bailey, with $22,829,570, has earned more this year.

Prado, a native of Peru, will try to add to his bankroll with several stakes mounts this weekend. On Saturday at Aqueduct, he rides Well Fancied in the $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, El Prado Rob in the $200,000 Remsen, and Taittinger Rose in the $200,000 Demoiselle. On Sunday at Hollywood Park, Prado rides Musical Chimes in the $500,000 Matriarch and Silver Tree in the $600,000 Hollywood Derby.

This year, Prado finished second behind John Velazquez at Belmont Park's spring and fall meets and was third behind Velazquez and Bailey at Saratoga. Prado won his first Saratoga meet title in 2002.

Prado's relationship with trainer Bobby Frankel has proven very important to his success. When Bailey, Frankel's go-to rider, isn't available, the trainer often uses Prado. The Frankel-trained Peace Rules was ridden by Prado when he won the $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park in August. Prado's other Grade 1 wins were the Spinaway on Ashado, the Matron with Marylebone, the Kentucky Oaks and the Acorn with Bird Town, and the Shadwell Turf Mile with Perfect Soul. Overall, Prado has won 46 stakes this year, including Thursday's Grade 3 Fall Highweight on Bossanova.

Prado credits his agent, Bob Frieze, for staying on top of things and partnering him with the right horses.

"He did a super job, keeping an eye on a lot of horses," Prado said. "Every little win counts, and when you win a lot of big races, you move quicker up the elevator. Everybody notices who is winning the big races. A jockey will be remembered at the end of the year for what he achieved when he is at the top of the list. Nobody is looking down the list."

Prado, who led the nation in wins from 1997-99, ranks seventh this year with 259 wins through Thursday.

Last year's top two may return

Along Came Mary and Princess Dixie, the winner and runner-up of last year's Montauk, are among the probables for this year's Montauk on Sunday. Jim Bond trains both Princess Dixie, the 122-pound Montauk highweight, and Along Came Mary, who was assigned 118 pounds for the New York-bred filly and mare stakes. The other expected starters for the 1 1/8-mile Montauk are Message Red (121), Grab Bag (114), Queen's Triomphe (114), Golden Damsel (113), Marc's Rainbow (113), Flag Pin (112), and Board Elligible (110).

Presidentialaffair out of Cigar

Trainer Martin Ciresa thought Presidentialaffair had better than a puncher's chance to make an impact in Saturday's Grade 1 Cigar Mile. Unfortunately, Ciresa won't get to find out - a foot abscess will keep Presidentialaffair in the barn.

Ciresa noticed heat in Presidentialaffair's right rear hoof following training Wednesday. After pulling the shoe, Ciresa noticed the abscess. Ciresa said Presidentialaffair was not lame, but he couldn't take a chance in a race like the Cigar.

"I really thought we had just one horse to beat," Ciresa said, referring to Congaree. "My horse was going in great. When you can take on a race with just one horse to beat, it's pretty disappointing to miss."

Presidentialaffair, the upset winner of the Stuyvesant Handicap here Nov. 11, is nominated to next Saturday's $100,000 Queens County Handicap over Aqueduct's inner track. Ciresa said if Presidentialaffair's foot heals quickly, he might consider running him back in that race.

Roar Emotion works toward return

Congaree, last year's Cigar Mile winner, is back to run in this year's Cigar. Toccet, last year's Remsen winner on the Cigar undercard, will run in the Cigar. So, what's happened to Roar Emotion, who won last year's Demoiselle Stakes on the Cigar undercard?

Roar Emotion has run just three times this year, mixing a win in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in May at Pimlico between a second-place finish in the Cicada at Aqueduct in April and a fifth-place finish in the Mother Goose at Belmont in June.

In the summer, Roar Emotion popped a splint bone in a hind leg. In October, owner Joe Allen transferred Roar Emotion to Kiaran McLaughlin's barn from Carlos Martin. Roar Emotion had her fifth workout this fall on Monday, breezing four furlongs in 49.90 seconds.

McLaughlin said Roar Emotion would probably not run until the Gulfstream meet, which begins on Jan. 3.

"She's coming along nicely," McLaughlin said.

* It was a rough start to Thanksgiving for the backers of trainer Allen Iwinski and jockey John Velazquez, the connections of the favorite for Thursday's first two races. In the opener, Orbited, the 3-5 favorite, stumbled leaving the starting gate and unseated Velazquez. In the second, Valenzo, the 9-5 favorite, broke slowly, made a middle move to gain contention around the turn, and tired to fourth in a five-horse field.

* Belmont's main track will close for the winter after training on Sunday.

- additional reporting by David Grening