10/20/2004 12:00AM

Anthony J.'s rise a shore thing

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MIAMI - Trainer Bill Perry makes his summer home in New Jersey, and as a result Saturday's $400,000 In Reality Stakes at Calder was never under consideration for his lightly raced 2-year-old Anthony J. But that changed abruptly when Anthony J. overcame trouble and exploded to win a six-furlong maiden race at Monmouth Park on Sept. 25.

All of a sudden, Perry found himself with an In Reality contender and his first starter in a Florida Stallion Stakes race.

"To tell the truth, I actually thought his future would be on the turf," Perry said. "He has a great foot, and basically that's why I bought him. Unfortunately, the first time I tried him on the grass he broke slow and never got into the race."

But Anthony J., a son of Tiger Ridge, came out of the turf race an improved horse. And in his next start, at six furlongs on the dirt, he drew off to a 4 1/4-length victory despite getting shut off and stopped in the run down the backstretch.

"When he got into all that trouble I thought he was out of the race," said Perry. "The way he finished really shocked me. And that's when we started thinking about coming to Calder for the In Reality."

Perry brought Anthony J. down to Florida early to give the colt a feel for the track. Anthony J.'s five-furlong work this week was timed in a slow 1:04.20, but Perry was pleased.

"He started off so slow I thought something happened to him," said Perry. "But he finished the same way he did in his last race. He really took off down the lane, and he acts like a horse who'll handle the extra distance. He's still a little green and not as seasoned as I'd like him to be, and I know we're up against it a bit going down there, but for that kind of money I think it's worth taking a shot."

Maiden winner Qureall fills out Plesa entry

The least experienced member of the In Reality field will be Qureall, who comes in having had just one start, an impressive come-from-behind 2 1/4-length maiden victory over a speed-favoring, sloppy track on Sept. 25. Qureall is part of an uncoupled three-horse entry trainer Ed Plesa Jr. will saddle for the In Reality. Plesa's other two are the stakes-tested duo of B. B. Best and Favre.

"He's coming into the race well, and I think he's got a chance to win if things work out right," said Plesa of Qureall. "The only knock is, obviously, the fact he's had just one start. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't jump him right into a stakes, but this is a restricted race, the purse is $400,000, the owners want to run, and they have every right to take the chance."

Cool Conductor a busy guy

Perhaps the biggest surprise when entries were drawn for Saturday's Festival of the Sun was the name of Cool Conductor in the box for the $200,000 Calder Derby. If he comes, Cool Conductor would be making his third start at three different tracks within a 13-day period.

Trained by Bill Mott and based at Churchill Downs, Cool Conductor finished a tiring fourth in Keeneland's Storm Cat Stakes on Oct. 10, then came back six days later to win the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby.

"He trained this morning and trained fine," Mott's assistant trainer Ken McCarthy said from Churchill on Wednesday. "At the moment getting him to Florida is our biggest problem, and right now chances are more likely we won't be able to make it down for the race than we will."