11/21/2002 12:00AM

True Direction blazes 58.58


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A strong comeback race followed by a sensational workout has True Direction heading in the right direction as he points for a start in Thursday's $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct.

On Nov. 8, coming off a 50-day layoff, True Direction ran second to veteran New York-bred millionaire Say Florida Sandy in a classified allowance race. True Direction earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 107.

On Thursday, True Direction drilled five furlongs in 58.58 seconds over Belmont Park's training track, the fastest of 19 drills at the distance.

"I think he needed that race last time," trainer Carlos Morales said. "He came back good. I just have to keep him sound. He worked a little faster than I expected, but I can train him a little easier up to the race."

In the spring, True Direction won the Hirsch Jacobs at Pimlico on Preakness Day. After finishing third in the Grade 2 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup Handicap on Belmont Day, True Direction was being pointed to the Carry Back Stakes at Calder in July when he injured a splint bone. After a couple of months off, he returned with a third-level allowance win in September.

In his last race, True Direction was giving five pounds to Say Florida Sandy, and broke a little awkwardly. Still, he ran strongly to be beaten only a head after rallying up the rail.

Jerry Bailey, who has ridden True Direction in each of his last two starts, will be not be in town Thanksgiving Day. Morales said either Ramon Dominguez or Javier Castellano would ride True Direction.

Smooth Jazz in Fall Highweight

The horse to beat in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight will be Smooth Jazz. Though the 3-year-old son of Storm Boot recently won a mile allowance race by six lengths, trainer Todd Pletcher believes the six-furlong Fall Highweight would suit him better than the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

"The Fall Highweight makes the most sense right now," said Pletcher, who will run Harlan's Holiday in the Cigar Mile. "The Cigar Mile is coming up pretty tough. The Cigar Mile next year for him would hopefully make sense."

Also pointing to the Fall Highweight: Esteemed Friend, Out of Fashion, Vodka, and Voodoo.

Balto Star wins impressively

Balto Star, who was part of the fastest opening three-quarters of a mile in Kentucky Derby history in 2001, demonstrated the ability to win from off the pace Thursday, taking a classified allowance race by 2 1/2 lengths over the late-running Country Be Gold. Saint Verre finished third.

Under John Velazquez, Balto Star stalked the pace-setting Saint Verre through fractions of 23.73 seconds, 47.59, and 1:11.16. Balto Star crept up alongside Saint Verre around the turn, took command in upper stretch, and drew clear with two right-handed whips from Velazquez. Balto Star covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.75 over a fast track.

"A lot of his big victories have been when he's been on the lead," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who won two races on Thursday's card. "His two wins this year have been when he's sat off a faster horse, which is good to see. He's a pretty solid horse when he's on top of his game."

Balto Star's other victory this year came in a turf allowance race. Balto Star had not won a dirt race since last year's Arkansas Derby.

Pletcher said he is not sure when Balto Star would run back. One possibility is the $100,000 Queens County Handicap here on Dec. 7. Pletcher also said he could take Balto Star to Florida where he could run on turf or dirt.

Thursday's race was supposed to mark the return of 2001 Clark Handicap winner Ubiquity. But, he was scratched when he broke out with a case of hives Thursday morning, according to John Booker, assistant to trainer James Bond.

Carrero called before stewards

Jockey Victor Carrero may face disciplinary action from the stewards stemming from his behavior following the running of Thursday's second race.

Carrero threw his whip and a handful of dirt at his mount, Saltaat, after the horse broke down after crossing the wire in fifth place. Saltaat, who flipped over and nearly landed on Carrero, suffered a mid-shaft fracture of the cannon bone in the left foreleg and had to be euthanized on track.

Carrero walked away from the spill relatively unscathed, though he was excused from his final two mounts on the card by track doctors. Carrero was to meet with the stewards on Friday, and may face a fine.

* Chuck Lopez will begin riding at Aqueduct on Wednesday, according to agent Joe Rosen. Lopez, a regular on the Jersey circuit, finished eighth during Aqueduct's 2001-02 inner track meet with 36 wins from 286 mounts.

* Dennis Carr took off his final three mounts on Thursday's card after complaining of light-headedness following the first race.

* Trainer Jennifer Pedersen was fined $200 for "failure to follow proper Lasix procedures," which forced the scratch of Run to Glory from Wednesday's third race.