04/22/2004 11:00PM

West Virginia chases bonus


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The 11 3-year-olds in Sunday's $150,000 Times Square, a division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct, are New York-breds in every sense of the word.

Each of the Times Square runners were born in New York and sired by New York stallions - unlike Kentucky Derby contenders Friends Lake and Read the Footnotes, New York-breds sired by Kentucky stallions.

, a son of Incurable Optimist, are clearly a cut above their Times Square rivals.

West Virginia won the Great White Way in November, which makes him eligible to earn a $100,000 bonus for his owners, Don and Mary Zuckerman, if he wins the one-mile Times Square and the Cab Calloway at Saratoga.

Last year, West Virginia also won a maiden race by 11 1/2 lengths and the restricted Damon Runyon. He finished a well-beaten third in the Grade 2 Remsen behind Read the Footnotes and Master David.

In his last start, West Virginia, who is trained by Todd Pletcher, finished last in the Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 21 in his turf debut.

"He's trained with good energy for this," said Seth Benzel, Pletcher's assistant. "He left here last year with an impressive record and we have given him some time since his last race with the idea of bringing him back into the New York-bred division."

John Velazquez, who has won five of 10 runnings of the Times Square, rides West Virginia from the rail.

Pletcher also entered Tomorrows Magic, an 11 3/4-length winner of a first-level allowance race on April 15. The Pletcher horses are coupled.

Last year, Pa Pa Da finished second to Friends Lake in two races. This year, Pa Pa Da has lost three grass races at Gulfstream.

"The idea was to go back to the dirt with him," said Dave Donk, Pa Pa Da's trainer. "He will have to beat West Virginia, but I think my horse will run well. His last race [in the Caltech] was better than it looked because he got caught in traffic. He's run a couple of good numbers on the dirt."

Edgar Prado rides Pa Pa Da from post 8.

* Six 3-year-old fillies were entered in the $150,000 Park Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes. Judy Soda is the likely favorite after winning her last two starts at Aqueduct. Priscilla's Flag won her maiden at Aqueduct in a mile race by 5 1/2 lengths.