02/27/2002 12:00AM

Another Western road trip for Coyote Lakes


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Coyote Lakes, who showed a new dimension coming from nine lengths back to win last weekend's Waquoit Stakes at Suffolk Downs, may be heading west for the $400,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational at Santa Anita in April.

Although Coyote Lakes is only 1 for 10 on turf, trainer Bruce Levine believes the 1 3/4-mile distance of the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano could play in his favor. Coyote Lakes, an 8-year-old gelding, is a two-time winner of the Gallant Fox Handicap, run at 1 5/8 miles on the dirt.

"I think if he's healthy I'm going to take a shot," Levine said. "He's won on the grass. I've run him on it twice and both races weren't bad. It's not his best [surface], but God forbid it should rain."

Last year, Levine sent Coyote Lakes to California where he ran fifth in the San Luis Rey, a 12-furlong turf race, and fifth in the San Bernardino Handicap, a nine-furlong dirt race. The San Luis Rey was the last time Coyote Lakes ran on turf. Levine was hoping Coyote Lakes could get loose on the lead in the San Luis Rey, but that didn't happen as Here Comes Big C opened up a huge early lead.

"It was a broken race," Levine said. "Some horse opened up 10 and we started chasing and the race broke apart. He was fifth and only got beat six lengths for the whole thing."

Levine's one concern is what to do with Coyote Lakes between now and the San Juan Capistrano, run on April 21. The local option is the Stymie Handicap on March 9, but Levine worries that the race might be too soon. Also, Coyote Lakes would have to face Ground Storm, who beat him in a 10-furlong allowance race here Feb. 3.

"I don't know if I want to come back in the Stymie," Levine said. "I couldn't beat Ground Storm going a mile and a quarter, I can't see how I'm going to beat him a mile and an eighth."

Levine said he might opt to simply train Coyote Lakes up to the San Juan Capistrano.

With his victory on Saturday, Coyote Lakes has now won 17 of 56 starts and earned $601,257.

Cobblestone Road steps up

Cobblestone Road, a winner of her last two starts, will make her stakes debut Saturday when she runs in the $75,000 Busher Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

After losing her first seven starts, Cobblestone Road, a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, won her maiden for a $50,000 claiming tag on Jan. 10 before coming back to win a preliminary allowance race on Feb. 10.

Mike Maker, an assistant trainer to D. Wayne Lukas, said he can't pinpoint what has turned around Cobblestone Road's fortunes.

"Maybe it's the company she's kept, but she is moving in the right direction," Maker said.

Although the time was slow, Cobblestone Road's allowance victory was noteworthy in that she was blocked around the turn, and she looked professional making a four-wide move and drawing off for the victory. That performance was flattered when Salem Willow, who finished second in that race, came back to win a preliminary allowance race on Wednesday.

The Busher is shaping up a seven-horse field, with Bema, Dancing Blues, Leveche, Short Note, Sideways, and either Totally Wild or Touch Love joining Cobblestone Road.

Netcong tries again

Netcong, beaten as the 3-5 favorite in a preliminary New York-bred allowance race on Jan. 30, gets a chance to make amends Friday when he takes on seven rivals at the same level.

Netcong, a son of Meadow Flight, had a rough trip in his last start. He was bumped entering the first turn, raced between horses entering the far turn, and bumped with Robbie's Rockin in the stretch before finishing well to be second. Trainer Jim Ryerson adds blinkers to Netcong's equipment and switches riders from Julian Pimentel to Robbie Davis.

Robbie's Rockin, who was making his first start against winners in the aforementioned race, returns with Lasix for the first time. He also retains the services of jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who has recorded three consecutive multiple-win days at Aqueduct and has moved into a second-place tie in the jockey standings.

Snoopy Blues was visually impressive rallying wide from 15 lengths back to win his maiden on Jan. 21. He would benefit from a contested pace between Knight at Rao's and Speedy Mohama.

* With Ability, who looked most impressive winning a two-turn allowance race by 9 1/2 lengths on Feb. 8, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.16 Wednesday at Belmont. It was the fastest of 15 moves at the distance. With Ability is being pointed to the Next Move Handicap on March 29.