07/31/2002 11:00PM

Bop be nimble at Penn?


Bop has run some big turf races in Virginia in the past two seasons. How will he do when he crosses the Mason-Dixon line and visits Pennsylvania?

That's a big question for handicappers attempting to decipher Saturday's 30th running of the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Handicap at Penn National.

The $50,000 Governor's Cup, slated as the second race on the nine-race card, will be contested at five furlongs on turf for the first time. Previously, it was a 1 1/16-mile grass race.

The 5-year-old Bop, who will break from the outside post in the 12-horse field, has made all four of his lifetime grass starts at Colonial Downs. He won the last two runnings of the five-furlong Punch Line, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure on June 22. He followed up with an allowance win on turf, but his Beyer dropped a full 10 points, making it difficult to tell which direction he's headed form-wise.

Governor's Pride, a 5-year-old trained by Tim Ritchey, has been a consistent performer on dirt, where he was a five-time winner in 2001. Making a rare start on the turf for the Mo Bay Stakes at Delaware Park on July 13, Governor's Pride responded with a win and a 95 Beyer. It was his first grass race since he finished second in the Thomas Edison at The Meadowlands last November.

Rudirudy, part of an entry with Sport d'Hiver for trainer Gaston Sandoval, is always dangerous, especially when he gets a little rest between starts. A 13-time winner with more than $455,000 in career earnings, Rudirudy captured the John McSorley at Monmouth Park for the second straight year on July 7 with a 102 Beyer. Six days later, he was wheeled back in the Mo Bay, but could only manage a fourth-place finish.

Last summer, Rudirudy attempted to pull off the same stakes double, winning the McSorley and finishing second in the Mo Bay two days later.

In four starts since cutting back to five furlongs in April, Splendeed has collected two wins and a second, including a victory worth a 94 Beyer in the Ben Cohen at Pimlico. Most recently, he was a nose behind Governor's Pride.

Manofglory finished behind Rudirudy twice at Monmouth this season, but trounced Governor's Pride by 4 1/4 lengths at The Meadowlands last fall. He may be primed for a peak effort in his third start off a long layoff.