02/02/2004 12:00AM

Second Gulfstream card canceled


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Racing at Gulfstream Park was canceled for the second straight day Monday because the jockeys deemed the track unsafe after heavy rains over the weekend.

Monday's nine-race program was canceled just prior to the first race despite sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70's. The field for the first race, a six-furlong claiming race for 3-year-old fillies, left the paddock and made it to the starting gate before the jockeys decided not to continue.

"Management tried its best to fix the track but it was just too uneven and unsafe," said Roger Velez, who was aboard Harbour Belle in the first race.

The riders also cited concerns that the track ambulance would not have been able to follow the horses after they broke from the starting gate due to the deep conditions on the outside of the course.

Before the first race, several jockeys had already taken off their mounts for the day. That group included John Velazquez, the meet's leading rider, and Jorge Chavez, Joe Bravo, and Jose Santos.

Sunday's program was terminated after the second race following an inspection of the track by nearly the entire jockey colony.

Velazquez, a Jockeys' Guild representative in New York, said the course was uneven with many spots deep and muddy and others hard like concrete. "The safety of the jockeys and the safety of the horses is our main priority," said Velazquez.

Track president Scott Savin said management would not have sent the jockeys or horses out to race if it felt the racetrack was unsafe.

"I'm not a jockey and I'm not riding the horses over the track so I have to respect their decision," Savin said Monday. "They went out there today with the intent to race, and that's all we could ask of them."

Gulfstream was open for training on Monday morning but the only recorded workout over a muddy strip was a 1:08 clocking for five furlongs by Predawn Raid, who is slated to run in Saturday's Donn Handicap.

Calder Race Course, 10 miles southwest of Gulfstream, and the Palm Meadows training center, 45 miles to the north, were both listed as fast and were open for business on Monday.

Tuesday is a dark day at Gulfstream. Racing was expected to resume on Wednesday.