07/15/2002 12:00AM

Allowance sprint is prep for 'Shine'


ELMONT, N.Y. - The conventional prep for the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap is the Honorable Miss Stakes. Allen Jerkens didn't get elected into the Hall of Fame doing things the conventional way.

Jerkens won last year's Ballerina with Shine Again, who was coming off a two-month layoff and was shortening up after a third-place finish in the two-turn Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth Park.

On Aug. 25, when Shine Again seeks to defend her Ballerina title, she will be coming off a pair of allowance sprints, the second of which is Wednesday's featured event at Belmont Park. Shine Again, whose last three Beyer Speed Figures tower over most of her rivals, should be the overwhelming favorite in the six-furlong race worth $54,000.

After unsuccessfully chasing Xtra Heat in a pair of Grade 2 stakes earlier in the meet, Shine Again found an easy spot on June 27 in which she romped to a 6 1/2-length victory while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 104.

Wednesday, she cuts back to six furlongs - a distance at which she is 4 for 10 - while meeting a somewhat tougher bunch.

Jerkens said he chose to run Shine Again in this allowance race rather than the $100,000 Honorable Miss on Aug. 2 because his filly is doing well and he may want to run Shiny Band in the Honorable Miss.

"You try to make out good with horses when you can," Jerkens said. "It's not always that simple."

Jerkens has been doing very well at this meet as his 17 winners have him third in the standings behind Todd Pletcher (26) and Richard Dutrow Jr. (25) with five racing days remaining.

Dutrow entered both Crescent Coast and Bella Rouge in Wednesday's allowance race. Both were entered and scratched - one because of an improper Lasix administration - out of the aforementioned June 27 race.

Bella Rouge, who will be ridden by the hot apprentice Victor Carrero, has won three of four since being claimed by Dutrow for $45,000 last December. At 110 pounds, Bella Rouge will be getting 12 pounds from Shine Again.

Crescent Coast has not run since May 24 when she finished third behind Honey Eyed in a classified allowance. Honey Eyed, who has not run back since that race, is also in this field.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to Shine Again will come from La Galerie, who under the conditions of the race carries topweight of 124 pounds. La Galerie tired to last after making a run at Xtra Heat in the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap. She looks like a need-the-lead type and may be hard-pressed to outrun Home on the Hill for the lead Wednesday.

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