03/18/2003 12:00AM

Volponi gets back on track


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Volponi, the upset winner of last October's Breeders' Cup Classic, took the first steps toward defending that title Tuesday with a three-furlong workout clocked in 37.64 seconds over Belmont Park's training track.

The work, the eighth fastest of 13 recorded at the distance and conducted over a fast track, was Volponi's first since his 43-1 Classic victory on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park. "He went well, steady,'' trainer Phil Johnson said. "He actually went a quarter a few days ago to get his attention.''

Johnson said if it were not for the harsh winter weather in New York, Volponi would have had his first workout about two weeks ago. However, he said the delay would not set Volponi back in his racing schedule. Johnson will shoot for an allowance race during the early stages of the Belmont spring-summer meet, which begins May 7. Johnson said he does not want to run in the opening-day feature, the Westchester Handicap.

Volponi was never far from his trainer's sight this winter as he remained in his Belmont Park barn, often time jogging up to three miles a day in the shed row when Johnson didn't like the condition of the training track.

"He's not as close as I'd like to have him, but Mary Kay,'' Johnson said, referring to his wife, "won't allow him in the extra bedroom.''

Aside from the Breeders' Cup Classic, scheduled for Oct. 25 at Santa Anita, Johnson said he has not set goals for Volponi this year.

Johnson said there will be some added pressure on him this year because he has told anyone that would listen Volponi would be better as a 5-year-old.

"I said when this horse was 2 that he would be a good 5-year-old and whatever he does at 3 and 4 is a bonus,'' Johnson said. "Now, I'm faced with my words. I think the full development in him started to show last fall. Last summer, the furthest thing in my mind was the Breeders' Cup Classic.''

Main track will open Friday

Despite a forecast that calls for showers, Aqueduct's main track will open Friday, track officials said.

"Right now, we're good,'' racing secretary Mike Lakow said.

The main track was originally scheduled to open on March 12 and was pushed back to March 14 before being postponed indefinitely because of poor weather conditions. Stakes races such as the Gotham, Toboggan, and Broadway were changed in distances in order to be run over the inner track.

The last several days have seen temperatures in the mid-60's in New York, allowing track superintendent Jerry Porcelli to put the finishing touches on the main track. The main track portion of the spring meet will run through May 4.

Green Jeans tops inner track finale

Green Jeans, a two-time winner over the inner track this winter, heads a five-horse field entered in a $48,000 third-level allowance race set at one mile.

Since returning from a seven-month layoff, Green Jeans is 2 for 3 with a third-place finish over the inner track. Her loss, a 1 1/2-length defeat to Drama Queen, came just 14 days after a powerful allowance win.

Green Jeans, trained by Billy Turner, is versatile enough to win from on or off the pace and could be the main speed in this field under apprentice John McKee.

Madame X Ski, who was beaten a neck in the 2002 Busanda Stakes over the inner track, will try to rebound from a poor seasonal debut at Laurel Park for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Madame X Ski showed speed and tired to last in the Conniver Stakes at Laurel on March 9. She should find this drop in class more to her liking.

Avalos, a second-level allowance winner last out; T C Kiss; and Sainttwok complete the field.

Smok'n Frolic tops Next Move field

Smok'n Frolic, winner of the Sunshine Millions Distaff in January, will be the starting highweight at 120 pounds in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Next Move Handicap at nine furlongs.

Smok'n Frolic, who won the Demoiselle at Aqueduct at 2, last raced on March 1 when she finished a well-beaten second behind loose-on-the-lead winner Allamerican Bertie in the Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream.

Tuesday, Smok'n Frolic worked four furlongs in 50 seconds at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida. She is scheduled to ship to New York on Thursday.

Smok'n Frolic will face four to seven rivals in the Next Move, including Rare Treat Handicap winner Ellie's Moment (116), Kiss a Miss (113), Ms. Rapunzel (113), Pupil (113), and possibly Run for Joy (113), Short Note (113), and Database (110).

* Second in Command, upset winner of the Best Turn Stakes, worked four furlongs in 47.93 seconds Tuesday over Belmont's training track.