04/11/2002 12:00AM

Simulcasts expanding to full cards on live days

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Fans and horsemen will find several new amenities awaiting them when Finger Lakes opens Saturday for a 161-day meet, which runs through Nov. 30.

Among the changes highlighting the 41st season at the upstate New York track is the elimination of an admission charge for live programs, the introduction of full-card simulcasting during every live card, and ontrack account wagering.

For horsemen, a new equine swimming pool has been built on the grounds.

Sixteen stakes, worth a total of $795,000, are scheduled, including the 30th running of the $125,000-added New York Derby on July 27. The New York Derby is the second leg of the Big Apple Triple, a three-race series for 3-year-old New York-breds. The other races in the series are run at Belmont Park and Saratoga.

Other highlights on the Finger Lakes stakes calendar, which mainly caters to New York-breds, are the $100,000 New York Breeders' Futurity and $60,000 New York Oaks on Sept. 2, and the $60,000 Lady Finger Stakes and $60,000 Aspirant Stakes on Aug. 17.

For the first time in the track's history, fans will be able to wager on up to four full-card signals on live racing days, including programs from New York Racing Association tracks. Previously, simulcasting was available only on dark days. Account wagering makes it debut this year and allows patrons to wager from the track at desktop terminals or mobile handheld devices.

A swimming pool for the horse population at Finger Lakes has been constructed. Modeled after a similar pool at Thistledown in Ohio, the pool measures 12 feet deep by 40 feet round and is located in a heated barn.

John Grabowski, on track to reach 2,500 career winners later this year, seeks his fourth consecutive riding title at Finger Lakes. Only two other local riders - Jose Olivares and Kevin Whitley - have won that many consecutive titles.

The powerful father-and-son training duo of Michael S. Ferraro and M. Anthony Ferraro will be back in force. Michael, the elder Ferraro, will be seeking his 18th training title at Finger Lakes. Last year, Ferraro won his fifth consecutive crown, while his son, M. Anthony, finished second and saddled a record eight stakes winners.

Later this month, racing will go to a four-day schedule, with Sundays added beginning May 19. Wednesdays and Thursdays are dark.

Post time for Saturday's opener is 12:50 p.m.