10/05/2004 11:00PM

Balto Star switches to main track


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Balto Star, a Grade 1 turf stakes winner, shifts back to the main track Friday night for the Grade 2, $500,000 Meadowlands Breeders' Cup Stakes.

The 1 1/8-mile Cup, The Meadowlands's signature event, drew eight runners and is the highlight event of the six-week meet. It tops an 11-race card that gets under way at 7:30 p.m.

"He's a horse that's multi-dimensional," said Todd Pletcher, Balto Star's trainer. "In that regard, he can run anywhere from a mile and a sixteenth to a mile and a half, turf or dirt. A lot of times, it's dependent on the pace scenario, how things shape up and how he likes the surface."

A strong effort in the Meadowlands Cup would open Breeders' Cup options for Balto Star: return to the grass for the $2 million Turf or remain on dirt for the $4 million Classic.

"Right now we're just kind of looking at the Meadowlands Cup, and we'll play it by ear after that," said Pletcher. "If he runs lights out, we might cross-enter in both and take a look and see how the pace is shaping up for both of them."

, upset winner of the 2003 Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park, finished in the money this season in a pair of Grade 1 handicaps: the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup and the Sword Dancer at Saratoga.

Balto Star makes his first main-track start since finishing second in the 2003 off-the-turf Grade 3 Oceanport Handicap at Monmouth. His dirt stakes victories include the Arkansas Derby and the Spiral Stakes.

Pletcher will also send out Lion Tamer, who is more proven around one turn but is coming of a two-length win in a 1 1/16-mile overnight stakes at Monmouth.

Dynever is another Cup contender who could also be Breeders' Cup bound. He returns from a freshening after finishing sixth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths as the favorite, in the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 3.

Lusty Latin has won two straight, including the off-the-turf John D. Schapiro Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap at Pimlico.

Trainer Nick Zito sends out Seek Gold.

In addition to Balto Star, the field includes two other Grade 1 winners: Gygistar (King's Bishop) and Toccet (Hollywood Futurity). Gygistar stretches out for the Cup after finishing third in the Grade 1 Forego Handicap at seven furlongs at Belmont. Toccet was second most recently in a Saratoga allowance race.

Unforgettable Max, third in last year's Meadowlands Cup, completes the field.