03/16/2010 12:00AM

Weathered an inner-track animal


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After winning eight races at Aqueduct's 2008-09 inner-track meet, this has been a winter of discontent for trainer Karl Grusmark. One of the few bright spots has been Weathered, who heads a field of six older fillies and mares in Thursday's $60,000 Polite Rebuff overnight stakes.

Weathered has won her last three starts on the inner dirt, a streak that began with the Rare Treat and Next Move last year and continued in the Darlin Momma overnight stakes against New York-breds on Jan. 14.

Weathered's two subsequent starts at Laurel epitomized the tough luck endured by the stable recently. She was beaten a neck in the Nellie Morse, and three weeks later was sixth, beaten just more than a length, in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie after a brutal trip.

"That was depressing," Grusmark recalled. "With a hair better start, I think she would've been able to get a piece of that. But that's life in the big city."

Along with Extra Sharp, Quiet Mover, and Starship Angel, Weathered is one of four in the one-mile Darlin Momma also nominated to the 139th running of the Ladies - a $100,000 race being brought back from a one-year hiatus a week from Saturday.

"She's been training exceptionally well, and I'm expecting a big race from her," Grusmark said. "Depending on what happens, there's a good possibility she could come back in that race."

Last fall, Weathered was second in the Turnback the Alarm, just a week after pressing the pace against males in the Empire Classic.

In terms of Beyer Speed Figures, Starship Angel is in the best form of her career for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. She was, however, fractious in the gate before recovering to win a second-level allowance first time on the inner dirt. Though she was schooled extensively following that experience, she was again difficult in the gate before a runner-up finish in the Rare Treat last out.

The Eddie Barker-trained Quiet Mover ran down Extra Sharp to win a second-level allowance under a well-judged ride from Gabriel Saez on Valentine's Day. She could get a favorable pace setup if Extra Sharp contests the early fractions with All Night Labor and Poovey, a Bruce Levine-trained mare in search of her fifth straight win.

"Quiet Mover only has a quarter-mile run, and she won't run inside of horses," Barker explained.