12/11/2003 12:00AM

Allens Blessing gets shot at 'Cruise'


Two months ago, River Cruise and Allens Blessing each won a race on the Maryland Million program at Laurel Park. They meet for the first time Saturday in Laurel's $60,000 Politely Stakes.

The Politely, a seven-furlong race for Maryland-bred 3-year-old fillies that was postponed by bad weather last weekend, heads a nine-race card that also includes the $40,000 H. Steward Mitchell Stakes for 2-year-olds. A third stakes, the $40,000 Toddler for 2-year-old fillies, failed to fill and will not be rescheduled.

River Cruise has been first or second in six of her seven lifetime starts, including decisive wins against statebreds in the Twixt and the Maryland Million Oaks, both at 1 1/8 miles.

"I like her - she always tries," said Ramon Dominguez, who will ride River Cruise for the first time since her last sprint, in June. "The distance should be perfect."

River Cruise is trained by Larry Murray. Murray has gone 7 for 16 in stakes in Maryland since last spring's Pimlico meet.

Allens Blessing, trained by Ed Coletti, began the year running for a $12,500 claiming tag as a maiden. But since Coletti gave her a crack at non-claiming competition, Allens Blessing has won 2 of 3 starts, including a 5 3/4-length victory in the Maryland Million Starter Handicap for fillies and mares.

Merryland Missy and Bamba are potential spoilers.

Merryland Missy is trained by Tim Ritchey, whose horses are 11 for 31 in stakes this year. She is back facing 3-year-olds after solid efforts against older horses in her last two starts.

Bamba earned two Beyer Speed Figures of 80 or higher early in the year, numbers that would make her a serious threat in this field. Although Bamba has been idle since April, her trainer, John Scanlan, does well with horses returning from long layoffs.

Three stakes winners in Mitchell

Excellent Band tops a field that includes three stakes-winning 2-year-old sprinters in the six-furlong H. Steward Mitchell.

Trained by Lori Testerman, Excellent Band comes off a career-best 86 Beyer earned for his win in the Huntington at Aqueduct.

His rivals include War's Prospect, impressive winner of the New Jersey Futurity at The Meadowlands last month; Tym Beau, who shortens up to the distance of his win in the NATC Futurity at Delaware after a pair of unsuccessful attempts at two turns; and Hands On, who has finished first in all three of his career races but was disqualified and placed second in last month's Rollicking for drifting out in the stretch.