11/02/2004 1:00AM

Turf course having problems


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Turf racing was canceled at Aqueduct on Tuesday after problems were detected with the course. The two maiden races carded for the grass were run on the main track.

According to track officials, there is a problem with the root system on the course. With no racing on Monday and Wednesday, the track superintendent, Jerry Porcelli, was hopeful that by having three days of inactivity, the turf course could bounce back and be usable by Thursday. The track's racing secretary, Mike Lakow, carded the $60,000 Manila Stakes on the turf for Thursday, and three turf stakes are scheduled over the weekend.

"In a couple of areas, there are loose pieces," Porcelli said. "We need to pack dirt in those places. I asked Mike Lakow for a day off to find all the areas. Some of the roots are starting to draw back. That's normal for this time of year. The grass kind of goes to sleep now, and there is no new rooting. The grass is trying to tell you it is near the end."

Porcelli said he had suggested to Lakow that "instead of running two or three grass races a day, it might be better to run one. We'll play it day by day."

In Sunday's Grade 3 Athenia Handicap, Andover Lady, who finished last of 11, lost her action around the far turn.

Turf racing is a key component to the Aqueduct fall meet. The Aqueduct turf course is one of the most underutilized in the country, getting use just two months out of the year.

Lakow said that for the short term, he would not want to run more than one race a day on the turf.

"For now, I'd like to run the allowance and stakes races on it and hold off on the claimers and maidens till we see where we're at and see what we can do to repair the damage," Lakow said.

Trainer Jimmy Toner, who had Ace on the River entered in Tuesday's fourth race, was nonplussed when he heard there was no turf racing. Toner said Coney Kitty, who finished seventh in Sunday's Athenia Handicap, came out of the race with no problems.

"How bad can the turf be? They just opened," said Toner.

Ace on the River finished sixth in the off-the-turf race.

Migliore out four to six weeks

Jockey Richard Migliore will be out four to six weeks with a broken right wrist and a fractured rib, apparently suffered during a spill at Aqueduct on Thursday and exacerbated when he rode two mounts on Saturday's Breeders' Cup program at Lone Star Park.

Migliore did not ride Sunday and took off his three scheduled mounts on Tuesday as well. One of those mounts, Summer Raven, won the Grade 3, $104,600 Tempted Stakes.

Last Thursday, Migliore was aboard Pavlina, who flipped in the gate and unseated Migliore. Migliore was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where X-rays were negative. Though he felt poorly, Migliore still felt well enough to ride on Saturday and guided Artie Schiller, the 7-2 favorite, to a 12th-place finish in the Mile, and Bwana Charlie, a 35-1 longshot, to a fourth-place finish in the Sprint.

"What are you going to do, not go to ride the Breeders' Cup because you don't feel good?' Migliore said. "Curt Schilling pitched with his ankle. I told my wife as soon as I rode I knew something was wrong."

Migliore said he didn't feel like his health compromised his performance in the Breeders' Cup.

"I know when I hit right-handed it hurt like hell, but I did it anyway," he said. "I don't feel like I compromised my horses' chances. My horses didn't have good trips. Artie Schiller wasn't handling the soft ground, and I don't think my physical well-being would have changed that in any way."

Toner hoping Wonder Again returns

Wonder Again, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, was sent to owner John Phillips' Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, Ky., for a vacation. Jimmy Toner, who trains Wonder Again, hopes it's not a permanent vacation.

Phillips has yet to decide what the future holds for Wonder Again, but Toner hopes that she will return to race in 2005 as a 6-year-old.

Next year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships will be held at Belmont Park, where Wonder Again is 4-1-0 from eight starts. She has won graded stakes at Belmont in each of the last three years.

"That's the overriding factor," Toner said. "Had it been somewhere else, I don't think he'd think about it. Being the fact she never has to leave New York and that she could basically have the same schedule she followed this year - that has a lot to do with it."

Phillips is on vacation with his wife, Joan, this week, according to his assistant, Katy Moore.

Toner believes that Wonder Again's breaking from the outside in the 12-horse field may have cost her a spot in the Filly and Mare Turf, in which she was beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Ouija Board and only a neck for second by Film Maker.

"Anybody who can do what a Ouija Board did deserves to win," Toner said. "Our filly ran well. Post position cost us probably being a little closer, maybe second money.''

If she retires, Wonder Again would finish her career with a record of 7-2-3 from 19 starts.

Roar Emotion seeking relief

After chasing the likes of Sightseek, Storm Flag Flying, and Adoration the last several months, Roar Emotion is hoping to find a softer spot when she runs in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap.

Roar Emotion won her first two starts of the year, including the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap at Gulfstream. She has lost her last six starts and has not run since dueling with Azeri and finishing last in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 27.

"We kept hooking all those bears. We were waiting for things to soften up a little bit," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "Hopefully, they soften up Saturday."

Roar Emotion will be the co-starting highweight in the field along with Capeside Lady, winner of the Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks two starts back. Others pointing to the race are Misty Sixes (116 pounds), Pocus Hocus (116), Nevermore (115), Personal Legend (115), Cloakof Vagueness (112), and Fortunate Damsel (112). Fast Cookie (114) is possible.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson