06/17/2008 11:00PM

Ardnavagh's last is better than it looks


OCEANPORT, N.J. - A cleaner trip should put Ardnavagh in the thick of the $40,000 allowance feature for fillies and mares on the turf Friday at Monmouth Park.

The 4-year-old wound up in a tough spot last time, encountering traffic down on the inside. She ran solidly in the final stages to advance from ninth to fourth with Jose Lezcano aboard.

"She appeared to be in a lot of trouble," said trainer Chad Brown. "We were trying to save ground. Jose was doing what we asked him to do, but he couldn't find a hole. She appeared to be full of run down the lane. She's been really doing well since then."

Ardnavagh faces nine rivals in the 1 1/8-mile race, with four more entered for the main track only. This race is a sixteenth of mile longer than Ardnavagh's last outing here on May 24. For a late-running filly, the extra ground could be beneficial.

"The distance should be helpful," Brown said. "She's an honest filly who tries hard every time."

With Lezcano committed to both halves of the Vickie and Phil Oliver-trained entry of Succeed and Bayou Jazz, Pablo Fragoso will ride Ardnavagh.

While he might be a new name to many Monmouth handicappers, Brown has spent all or part of his recent summers on the Jersey Shore as the assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. Brown went out on his own last year, and currently has 30 horses in training with 15 in his Monmouth division. He has another 15 at Saratoga, mostly juveniles preparing to debut and horses on the comeback trail.

"So far, it's been good," Brown said. "I have owners who have been very supportive. They're giving me a chance and I'm starting to get more horses ready."

Bruce Levine has had no shortage of runners at Monmouth so far. The meet's runaway leader in the training standings sends out Miss Mecke Mouse, third in her Monmouth debut on May 24 as the 5-2 favorite.

No Use Denying will make her grass debut for trainer H. Graham Motion. She suffered half-length losses in her last two, including the off-the-turf Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico.

Betty Is Ready also caught an off-the-turf spot last time, Monmouth's Little Silver Stakes on May 31. She made a late run along the muddy rail to finish fourth.