01/11/2005 12:00AM

Speedsters may be key in pick four


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Aqueduct's inner track hasn't been labeled fast since Jan. 2, and judging from the weather forecast for sleet and rain Tuesday and Wednesday, it seems probable there will be some leftover moisture in the surface on Thursday.

After watching inside speed dominate on the wet tracks last week, many handicappers have rearranged their priorities to concentrate on finding the early leaders, and have put other factors on the back burner. Who can blame them? Saturday's card was canceled after three races because of poor track conditions, but the rail was golden before and after that, as the inside path became a conveyor belt for front-end winners.

Of course, there's no guarantee the bias will still be in play after the two-day break, especially since the changeover in track superintendents from Jerry Porcelli to John Passero has just taken place. Still, horseplayers eyeing Thursday's all-allowance late pick four will give extra credit to contenders who have shown some early speed.

The sixth race is an entry-level allowance route at 1 3/16 miles, composed primarily of 4-year-olds, and the battle for the early lead comes down to Salic Law and Coeus.

had the early lead in his last five races of 2004, which is remarkable in view of his persistent troubles at the starting gate. He was reluctant to load in his first start on the inner track, but grabbed the early lead and held on to deep stretch before dropping a close decision.

began his career with an eye-catching debut win on the main track in November, then broke slowly and finished third in two allowance sprints on the inner track. He spots Salic Law route experience, but will also be carrying 10 fewer pounds than his main rival.

In the seventh, an allowance sprint for New York-bred fillies, come off wire-to-wire maiden wins, as does Philadelphia Park shipper Touchy Broad. They may be hard-pressed to hold off What's Your Point, who holds a significant edge in terms of last-out Beyer Speed Figures.

A field of 10 older fillies and mares goes in the eighth, a wide-open preliminary allowance dash. The one to catch may be , who has been freshened since winning back-to-back allowance sprints against New Jersey-breds at The Meadowlands.

, a front-running winner against entry-level New York-bred sprinters last time out, was also entered Wednesday. She appears strictly the one to catch if held out to await Thursday's ninth race at a mile and 70 yards.