08/26/2004 11:00PM

American Freedom's chance to shine

Trueamericanspirit wins the Lincroft under Eibar Coa, who has the return call in Sunday's Jersey Breeders.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Jamie Woodington has a fervent plea for Sunday and the second annual New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival at Monmouth Park.

"Please, let it not rain," said Woodington.

She has an entry of in the $100,000 Jersey Breeders Turf Highweight, one of five stakes on an afternoon of 11 races devoted exclusively to New Jersey-breds.

The Jersey Breeders at 1 1/16 miles offers a rare opportunity for the statebreds to run on the grass, and Woodington would hate to see it moved off the turf.

American Freedom is winless in three grass starts this year, all against open company at Monmouth. The 6-year-old gelding has finished behind some very tough runners, such as Burning Roma, Megantic, and Del Mar Show.

"This is his one opportunity to run at a level where he doesn't have to match that kind of horse," Woodington said.

American Freedom, the 122-pound highweight, has posted superior Beyer Figures this year, reaching the 90's in all three of his starts. His best figure was 96 for a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Red Bank Handicap here on opening day.

With Jose Velez Jr. aboard, American Freedom will be coupled with Freedom's Honor, his half-brother.

American Freedom faces an old rival in Catechol. They clashed in the 2002 and 2003 Lincroft Handicaps at Monmouth, with American Freedom beating Catechol both times by narrow margins.

"I'd like to turn the tables if we can," said Catechol's trainer, Glenn Thompson. "He's training really well."

, 7, has had an interesting year, running in races ranging from the Grade 1 United Nations down to $35,000 claimers. He will carry 116 pounds with Chris DeCarlo aboard.

, the dominant Jersey-bred earlier in the meet with wins in the John J. Reilly and Lincroft handicaps, will make his second turf start.

Trainer Tim Hills strongly considered the $100,000 Colts Neck Handicap at six furlongs on dirt before settling on the Jersey Breeders.

"To be a good Jersey-bred, you have to be versatile," said Hills. "He worked well on the turf in company on Wednesday, and that encouraged me."

Trueamericanspirit, who last ran fourth in an open allowance race on the main track on Haskell Day, worked four furlongs on the firm course in 50.80 seconds.

The 4-year-old gelding is second highweight in the race at 120 pounds. Eibar Coa will ride.

'Daisy' could cheer up Sleeters

Gerry and Kevin Sleeter, still dealing with the loss of Something Smith last weekend, could get a boost from Whoop's Ah Daisy in the $100,000 Eleven North Handicap for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

Something Smith, one of the leading New Jersey-bred sprinters, was put down last weekend following an infection.

Whoop's Ah Daisy is well positioned to deliver a spirit-lifting win in the Eleven North, named for a previous Sleeter stakes winner. She has gotten six of her seven career victories at Monmouth and should relish the return to the Jersey-bred ranks after three straight starts in open stakes company.

Whoop's Ah Daisy had an awkward start last time out in the Regret Stakes on the Haskell Day undercard and wound up sixth, her only off-the-board effort this season.

"She got left in the gate," said Gerry Sleeter. "She took a step back just as the gate opened, and that was that. She never could recover from the bad start. But that shouldn't happen again. She's normally very good out of the gate."

A clean break under jockey Felix Ortiz would put Whoop's Ah Daisy in a strong position. The 5-year-old mare crushed a similar field in her last Jersey-bred appearance, the Open Mind Handicap on June 5 at Monmouth.

Whoop's Ah Daisy is co-highweight with Out of the Will at 119 pounds.

Out of the Will has won two straight allowance races against open company for trainer Tim Kelly.

Quiet Desperation has number power

Quiet Desperation has the Beyer numbers and the affinity for the track to be a top contender in the $100,000 Colts Neck Handicap at six furlongs. He has won two straight allowance races against open rivals while posting sharp Beyers of 91 and 92.

Quiet Desperation will carry 118 pounds, one less than highweight Upturn, who was most recently disqualified from an allowance victory at Saratoga.

* Leading owner Michael Gill goes for the quick score with Assaggini in the $100,000 Jersey Girl Handicap for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards. Gill claimed the mare out of a win last out for $25,000.

* War's Prospect towers over the competition in the $75,000 Pappa Riccio, if he can handle the stretch-out to one mile. He earned a career-best 101 Beyer for his victory in the six-furlong Rumson Stakes - 9 points better than anyone else in the field.

* This is the second New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival sponsored by the Malouf Auto Group. The day highlights statebred runners in an effort to increase interest in a program in which the estimated 2004 foal crop will only be 300.

"The purse structure has stabilized for the next three years," said Mike Campbell, executive director of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association of New Jersey. "There are fewer horses racing for a good amount of money. That should draw more people here compared to other states where you compete against much bigger foal crops."