07/17/2005 11:00PM

Cat Alert comfy on turf or dirt


ELMONT, N.Y. - The versatile Cat Alert makes her first start for trainer Joe Orseno on Wednesday in a $58,000 optional claimer at Belmont Park.

The 5-year-old was a welcome addition to Orseno's barn. She has already won 6 of 15 starts, including her last two races. Cat Alert dominated in her last start, a grass race at Keeneland on April 24. After dueling for the early lead, Cat Alert drew off to 10 1/4-length win that earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

If Wednesday's one-mile turf race for fillies and mares comes off the grass, Cat Alert should also feel comfortable. She won in the slop at Churchill Downs last November.

"I started training for Never Tell Farm and picked up quite a few of their horses," Orseno said of Cat Alert's owners. "She's a nice kind of filly to have. If it does rain and come off, unless the track is real bad, we will probably stay in. She does seem to handle any surface."

Cat Alert arrived at Orseno's Monmouth Park barn in early June.

"She's really training well and she's doing everything right," Orseno said. "I'm happy with her progress. It has been kind of wet over here at Monmouth so I haven't been able to breeze her on the grass the way I would like to. We've put a lot of open gallops into her to get her legged up."

Orseno had been shopping for a spot to run Cat Alert. He plans to run her in Monmouth's Grade 3, $150,000 Taylor Made Matchmaker Stakes on Aug. 7. A potential prep at Monmouth didn't fill before this spot turned up.

John Velazquez, who was aboard for the Keeneland victory, has the return call.

Cat Alert will face only five rivals if the race remains on the turf. Board Elligible and Aesculus are entered for the main track only.

, a multiple graded-stakes winner, gets class relief in this spot. The 4-year-old Mambo Slew hasn't hit the board in three starts this season but she did record Grade 3 victories in the 2003 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park and the Sands Point Stakes at Belmont last year.

She was a no-factor sixth most recently in the Grade 2 Just a Game Breeders' Cup Stakes at Belmont.

Leading rider Edgar Prado replaces Gary Stevens, who rode Mambo Slew for her last three races.

ends a streak of nine straight stakes appearances. She missed by less than two lengths last time out on soft turf in Monmouth's Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap.