08/23/2005 11:00PM

Cherokee's Boy seeks three-peat

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Cherokee's Boy goes for a Monmouth Park hat trick - three consecutive stakes victories here - in the Grade 3, $250,000 Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sunday.

That string of success has earned him the role of likely starting highweight at 118 pounds for the 1 1/8 miles stakes.

Cherokee's Boy is in the midst of an outstanding season with 4 wins in 6 starts, including three consecutive stakes victories.

"He has stepped up to the challenge," said trainer Gary Capuano. "Now he gets one more."

The streak started with the Brandywine Handicap at Delaware Park before shifting to Monmouth for the Skip Away Stakes and the Grade 3 Salvator Mile.

"He's pretty adaptable," said Capuano. "He's run well on every track. He's got speed, which really helps at Monmouth. He's run two big races there."

In all three starts, Cherokee's Boy used his early speed to excellent tactical advantage, running no worse than second at any call.

That speed is also evident in the morning when Cherokee's Boy usually earns the bullet work when he breezes.

He has had two works at Delaware Park since the Salvator win on July 24 and both were fastest at the distance on that morning.

He went four furlongs in 47 seconds on Aug. 7 and followed that with a five-furlong drill in 59.20 seconds on Aug. 14.

"He does it well within himself," Capuano said. "He's pretty much a push-button horse. You just get him running and from there he does everything on his own."

Other probable Iselin runners include Presidentialaffair, last year's Iselin runner-up; the Irish-bred Billy Allen; and Cointreau.

Trainers Todd Pletcher and Nick Zito have multiple nominees in the race. Pletcher can pick from Purge, Navesink River, Colita, West Virginia, and Shaniko.

Zito nominated Commentator, winner of the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, along with Sir Shackleton, Royal Assault, Go Now, Confirmed, and Dwango.

French-raced River Bride adds intrigue

River Bride makes her U.S. debut Friday in the $39,000 allowance feature for fillies and mares. The mile and 70-yard allowance drew nine entrants with River Bride the most intriguing. The 3-year-old filly has a record of 1-2-0 in 7 starts, all turf races in France.

She switches to the main track and adds Lasix for trainer Christophe Clement.

Chasing Yield is another 3-year-old in the race. She won her maiden last time out at Monmouth going six furlongs and will try to show that same ability around two turns for trainer Mark Hennig.

Turf course adjustments

Monmouth will offer turf racing only on the weekends for the short time the course remains open.

The chewed-up course will be torn up and replaced after Labor Day in preparation for the 2007 Breeders' Cup.

Until then, the track will try to eke out a few more grass races. The race office will card two on both Saturdays and Sundays.

In an effort to find better ground, the temporary turf rail has been moved 30 feet out from the hedge. That position narrows the course considerably and forces management to limit grass fields to eight horses.

All five-furlong turf sprints, including the $55,000 Incredible Revenge Stakes for fillies and mares on Saturday, will move to the main track at the same distance.

* Jockey Alan Garcia will return Saturday, agent Bruce Golub said. Garcia has been sidelined with a fractured clavicle suffered in a spill on July 24 at Monmouth.

* James Musto, 75, died Monday after a long illness. He owned Jimmy's Turf Clothes & Accessories on the Monmouth backstretch since 1975. His son, Mike Musto, is the executive director of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.