06/24/2004 11:00PM

Cherish Destiny due to get lucky


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Cherish Destiny has the speed to control her destiny in the $60,000 Dearly Precious Stakes Sunday at Monmouth Park.

She also gets the services of Joe Bravo, the leading rider at the meet, in the six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.

All Cherish Destiny needs to earn her first stakes victory is racing luck, a commodity in short supply thus far in the relationship between trainers Doug O'Neill and Kelly Breen.

O'Neill and Breen first connected last year, when O'Neill, based in California, sent Excessivepleasure east to prepare for Monmouth's Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational. O'Neill wanted a nice, quiet barn, and Monmouth race secretary Mike Dempsey suggested Breen. O'Neill and Breen, who had never met, talked daily, as Breen oversaw the training leading up the Haskell.

The arrangement worked well, except for the Haskell start. Excessivepleasure stumbled at the break, recovered to gain stalking position, but faded in the lane.

"Everything went well, until the stumble," said Breen. "If not for that, he probably would have run better."

Bad start, bad luck.

Their fortunes have not improved this year. O'Neill sent Cherish Destiny, runner-up in the Grade 3 Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park last year, to Breen for the Funistrada Stakes at Belmont Park.

Bad start, more bad luck.

Cherish Destiny suffered a four-inch gash on the left-hind ankle at the break that compromised her chances.

"She was bumped around pretty good at the start," said Breen. "That race was a throw out."

The cut has healed, and Cherish Destiny looks ready to roll against seven rivals.

"I know Doug's expecting her to run well," said Breen. "She's stocky, like a colt, and she's fast. She should be fine."

Contenders in the race include Schedule, runner-up in Monmouth's Crank It Up Stakes; Speedy Falcon, winner of the Sunland Oaks at Sunland Park; and Whirlwind Charlott, second in Monmouth's Grade 3 Sorority last season.

North East Bound stretches out

North East Bound, one of the heroes of New Jersey racing, returns Sunday in a money-allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

An 8-year-old gelding, North East Bound has won many major stakes in the state, including the 2000 Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup. He used that race as the final prep for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile, in which he set an aggressive pace and lost in the final jumps to War Chant.

North East Bound made one start at Monmouth this season, on June 5, when he finished 10th in the five-furlong Wolf Hill Stakes on the grass.

This spot should be more to North East Bound's liking.

"He looks like a million dollars," said trainer Bill Perry. "He suffers a little from wear and tear, but he doesn't look his age."

The race came up very strong, with Spruce Run, First Lieutenant, and Lismore Knight in the field.

Busy weekend for Elliott

Jockey Stewart Elliott shuttles back and forth to Canada this weekend. A native of Toronto, Elliott attended a press conference at Woodbine on Friday morning to promote the Queen's Plate Stakes on Sunday.

Elliott flew back to New Jersey to ride the Friday and Saturday cards at Monmouth. He was slated to return to Toronto on Saturday night to ride Long Pond in the Queen's Plate.

* Jockey agent Danny Nied celebrated his 50th birthday Friday. Nied, who handles Eddie King and Dale Beckner, won the 1978 Monmouth Invitational at 17-1 aboard Delta Flag for trainer Larry Jennings.