07/01/2001 11:00PM

Big Bambu touches down again


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Few horses have accumulated as many frequent flyer miles as Big Bambu, who ships in for Wednesday's $75,000 Regret Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

Big Bambu, based at Thistledown in Ohio, has run at eight different tracks in the Midwest and East in her last 10 races. And yet she shows no signs of jet lag, having finished in the money in all but one of her 12 lifetime starts.

"Her demeanor and disposition enables us to do that with her," trainer Alan Sobol said.

Sobol sends Big Bambu to Monmouth with the intention of using the Regret as a springboard to the Grade 3 Honorable Miss and Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga later in the summer. In her only graded stakes start, she finished second to Dream Supreme in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga last summer. Since then, she has dominated in minor stakes.

"This race gives us a perfect spot between races," said Sobol. "It fits in with our plans to run her at Saratoga this summer."

In most of her wins, Big Bambu has been on the lead right out of the gate. Although the 12-horse Regret field includes many front-runners, Sobol believes Big Bambu is versatile enough to sit off the pace.

"Her last two riders have told me that she is relaxing now," Sobol said, "and that she doesn't have to be up front."

Big Bambu breaks from post 6 with jockey Mario Pino, who was aboard Big Bambu in her last win, the $75,000 Skipat Stakes at Pimlico on June 9.

If Katz Me If You Can is able to overcome post 11, she could be the biggest challenge to Big Bambu. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Katz Me If You Can is rounding into form as a 4-year-old. She won the Grade 2 Genuine Risk at the Regret distance two races back, and finished third in the Grade 3 Vagrancy at Belmont to runaway winner Dat You Miz Blue in her last start. She will be coming from off the pace, a running style that could be effective in the Regret. Katz Me If You Can will be ridden by Eibar Coa for the first time.

Todd Pletcher, who was won with more than a third of his starters this meet, sends out the solid entry of Tugger and Lucky Livi.

Lucky Livi, who breaks from the outside post, defeated Big Bambu last year in the Miss Preakness Stakes. She also won the Little Silver Stakes here, registering her highest Beyer Speed Figure (101). She has not won in six starts since.

Tugger has shown a liking for the Monmouth strip, having won her last two races here, an optional claiming race and the Klassy Briefcase Stakes. Tugger is coming off just two weeks' rest in the Regret.

"Big Bambu is the one to fear," said Pletcher's assistant trainer George Weaver, "but our fillies have been training excellent. We're especially happy with the way Tugger has come around here."

The Regret will be run as the ninth race on a 10-race card.

* Along with the Regret and the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup, the third stakes on the holiday card is the $50,000 Serena's Song Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The class of the field is Latour, who will break from post 1. Latour, trained by John Kimmel, won the Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 25. She is winless in her three starts since that victory, and the Serena's Song Stakes, run as the eighth race, is a nice spot for her to get back on track. She will be ridden by Joe Bravo.

* First post on Wednesday will be pushed back to 2 p.m. to accommodate a concert by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes that will begin at 11:30 a.m. The concert is free with each paid admission to the track.