06/15/2008 11:00PM

Big strider tries first turf route


OCEANPORT, N.J. - At the Disco, the "gentle giant" in Mary Hartmann's barn, will try a turf route for the first time Wednesday in the $41,000 second-level allowance feature at Monmouth Park.

The gray 4-year-old colt faces six rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race, his first start beyond six furlongs since the final race of his juvenile season.

After At the Disco finished sixth in Monmouth's Wolf Hill Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf on June 1, Hartmann had a discussion with owner-breeder Patricia Generazio about the horse's future.

"He's such a big horse," Hartmann said. "We got together and decided he's just too big. He's got a great big stride and would probably benefit from more ground."

At the Disco's only two-turn experience came at the Meadowlands on the main track on Nov. 6, 2006, a forgettable eighth-place finish.

"He drew the one-hole and he got kind of buried in there," Hartmann said. "At 2, he really didn't like to be around other horses. He just kind of backed right out of there. He's not the bravest of souls, but he's much better at 4."

All but two of At the Disco's 19 starts have been on the main track, but Hartmann was encouraged by how he handled the footing in the Wolf Hill.

"I think he'll love the grass because he seemed to like it sprinting," Hartmann said.

Stewart Elliott will ride At the Disco for the first time.

Divine Master has taken to the turf well this year, unbeaten in two tries at Gulfstream Park.

He made his grass debut March 13, winning easily. He was claimed from that race for $30,000 by trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. and comfortably beat a similar field the next time out.

The next stop was Monmouth and a second-level allowance that came off the turf. Divine Master grudgingly gave up the lead, losing by a head in a four-horse race run in the slop.

Eddie Castro has the return mount.

Maddy's Crowd comes into Wednesday's race in fine form for trainer Tim Hills. The 5-year-old won his maiden for a $62,500 claiming tag at Gulfstream Park on March 31, and followed that with a first-level allowance win at Atlantic City Race Course.

His latest start was in a spot similar to Wednesday's, at Philadelphia Park on June 10. He stalked the early pace, seized the lead, and was nailed at the wire, losing by a head.