09/26/2005 11:00PM

Just four probables for Pegasus


The Meadowlands Racetrack opens its 29th Thoroughbred meeting on Friday night, with its two richest races - the $250,000 Pegasus Stakes and $500,000 Meadowlands Cup - to be run the first week and likely to draw horses on course for the Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 29.

The Grade 3 Pegasus, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, tops an opening night card that includes three other stakes races. The Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup follows on Oct. 7.

Tuesday, the prospective Pegasus field was at four - Park Avenue Ball, Magna Graduate, Andromeda's Hero, and Network.

At Monmouth Park, trainer Jim Ryerson called Park Avenue Ball probable for the Pegasus. "It looks like he will make the race," Ryerson said.

Park Avenue Ball has not raced since running third in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on Aug. 7, having developed a respiratory infection that kept him out of the Pennsylvania Derby on Labor Day.

He returned to the racetrack on Sept. 16 with a bullet six-furlong breeze. Last Friday, he recorded a five-furlong workout in 1:00.00, the fastest of 14 workouts at the distance.

"I think he needed a good work," Ryerson said. "We're happy with how he came out of it. He has rebounded from his sickness and made himself a probable based on his last breezes. We intend to run him if he has a good week."

Magna Graduate, trained by Todd Pletcher, enters the Pegasus with two strong runner-up finishes. He ran second to Real Dandy in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby and prior to that was defeated one length by Palladio in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby. John Velazquez will ride Magna Graduate for the first time.

Nick Zito said Andromeda's Hero, fifth in the Travers in his last start while adding blinkers, will take off that piece of equipment. Rafael Bejarano, who guided Andromeda's Hero to a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, will be aboard.

Network, based locally with trainer Eddie Broome, ran fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby. Joe Bravo, coming off his 11th Monmouth riding title, retains the mount.

In October, The Meadowlands will race Tuesdays at 1:10 p.m. Eastern and Wednesday through Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. In November, the track will race four days a week, Wednesday through Saturday nights. The 30-day meet is the second shortest since Thoroughbred racing began at the Meadowlands in 1977.

Average daily purses are approximately $275,000 and the Big M will offer 33 stakes races worth $2.6 million. Last year, during a 33-day meet, the track offered $3.1 million in graded and overnight stakes.