On Wednesday, December 3, racing will move to Aqueduct’s inner dirt track. Built in 1975, the one-mile oval was erected on the former site of the inner turf course to better accommodate winter racing.

The Big A’s inner dirt track played a big role in the careers of such horses as Thunder Rumble, Prairie Bayou and Smarty Jones, all of whom won the Count Fleet. The Interborough Handicap produced such winners as Lottsa Talc, Xtra Heat and Oprah Winney. Wayward Lass, King’s Swan, Evening Attire, Peeping Tom, Missy’s Mom, Magnolia Jackson, Dixie Brass, Plankton, It’s Acedemic, More to Tell, Honorable Miss, Boom Towner and Affirmed Success are among Aqueduct’s more accomplished inner dirt track alumni."

Approximately 150 trainers have been assigned stalls at either Aqueduct Racetrack or Belmont Park for the coming inner track meet, hoping they, too, will get a horse that will flourish in the winter. Of these, the names Oscar Barrera Jr., John Forbes, Allen Iwinski and Scott Lake leap off the page.

Barrera, who trained here in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, is the son of the late Oscar Barrera, who was New York’s leading trainer from 1983 –‘86. Following his father’s death in 1991, the younger Barrera moved to Finger Lakes, where he trained that track’s 2003 “Horse of the Year” Perty Number. He also trained Tri Ocala, Satch and The Young Squire, who won seven races in one meet at Gulfstream Park.

Forbes is The Meadowlands’ all-time leading trainer and a five-time leading trainer at Monmouth Park. Instrumental in the success of retired Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone, Forbes also headed Phantom House Farm, which raised $1.95 million to purchase yearlings though 1998. One of these was Tale of the Cat, who, with Krone up, won Saratoga’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop in 1997. Tale of the Cat was sold for $11.7 million.

Currently the leading trainer at Philadelphia Park and Laurel, Lake has raced in New York before, and was an Eclipse Award finalist in 2000 and 2001 when he lead the nation in wins. He was also the national leader in 2003 and 2006, and has finished first or second in wins every year since 2000. Lake earned his 4,000th career victory on October 31, 2007 at Penn National with Hickory Trick, and that year, he left New York and whittled his stable down to about 130 horses. He has won several training titles on the Mid-Atlantic circuit.

Citing health reasons, Iwinski dispersed his stable in 2005, but has re-entered the racing game. He has won training titles at Delaware Park and Philadelphia Park and was Gulfstream Park’s second-leading trainer in 2001.

While many of the larger stables will be heading to warmer climates for the winter, they will still have representation in New York. These include horses for trainers Tom Albertrani, Steve Asmussen, H. James Bond, David Donk, Richard Dutrow Jr., Anthony Dutrow, Mark Hennig, Jimmy Jerkens, John Kimmel, D. Wayne Lukas, Kiaran McLaughlin, Todd Pletcher, Linda Rice, Barclay Tagg, Rick Violette Jr. and Nick Zito.

Of course, trainers Gary Contessa, Bruce Levine, Dominic Galluscio, Mike Hushion and Richard Schosberg are major inner track players primed for the upcoming meet.

First race post at Aqueduct will remain at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Racing will continue at the Big A through Sunday, December 14, and there will be no live racing during the Christmas break, Monday, December 15 through Christmas Day, Thursday, December 25. There will be simulcasting offered from December 15 -23.

Live racing will then resume on Friday, December 26.