07/09/2003 12:00AM

Christine's Outlaw in Long Branch mix

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - The Grade 3, $100,000 Long Branch Stakes could draw a field of eight Saturday as the featured event of the weekend.

The Long Branch, at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds, serves as the traditional prep for the meet's centerpiece, the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3. Since 1990, only two Long Branch winners skipped the Haskell and three went on to run second.

The roster of possible Long Branch runners includes: Christine's Outlaw, In Hand, Newfoundland, Sky Soldier, Yo, Happy Trails, Supervisor, and Grand Hombre.

Christine's Outlaw figures to be one of the favorites. A Wild Again colt, he put up a determined fight in the Grade 3 Leonard Richards Stake at Delaware Park and missed by a nose.

Sky Soldier shipped in from Penn National for trainer Todd Beattie and won Monmouth's Restoration Stakes on June 15. He also captured the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel in late March.

Yo has reeled off three straight wins in Pennsylvania-bred stakes. Yo tackled open company is his most recent outing, the Nick Shuk Memorial at Delaware Park, and was beaten over 15 lengths.

In Hand won a maiden race early in the meet and ran third in his first crack at allowance company.

The most intriguing Long Branch prospect remains the unbeaten Grand Hombre. A Grand Slam colt, he easily won a Monmouth allowance race on June 29 in his second start.

Trainer Dennis Manning plans to work Grand Hombre Thursday morning and then decide his Long Branch status.

Once Around looks tough

Once Around tops the featured $39,000 allowance race on Monmouth's Friday card.

A 4-year-old filly, she loved the Monmouth turf course last summer, winning the Revidere Stakes and running second in the Twin Lights Stakes over firm ground. She has two career victories, and both have come at Monmouth.

Once Around has started once this year, coming up empty in an allowance race over the drying-out course. That added conditioning and the prospect of a firm course should enhance her chances. Leading rider Joe Bravo gets the call for trainer Vicki Oliver.

Completing the field are Erimos, Alyson Rambles On, Radiant Nancy, Katie Kreitz, Blushing Rainbow, Charleston Springs, Tazotee, and Clever Prospector.

Rose shifts to Delaware

Jeremy Rose, second in the Monmouth jockey standings, has shifted his base to Delaware Park following the breakup with leading owner Michael Gill.

"We got some pretty good vibes," at Delaware, said agent John Breeden.

Rose was the Monmouth stable rider for Gill until the split on Sunday. Victor Carrero picked up the Gill mounts on the Wednesday card and got off to a rough start.

He could not hold a three-length stretch lead in the second race and settled for third aboard Once Rich. In the third race aboard Last Intention, Carrero was disqualified from first and placed second for stretch interference.

Carrero and Gill rebounded to win the $50,000 featured allowance aboard Rebecca's Charm, beating Grade 1 winner Miss Linda in the process.

Bravo out of town

Joe Bravo will miss the Saturday card to ride two horses for Monmouth-based trainers in the Summit of Speed at Calder.

Bravo, Monmouth's leading jockey, has mounts on Joe's Son Joey in $100,000 Calder Turf Sprint for Tim Hills and Valid Video in the Grade 3, $300,000 Carry Back Stakes for Dennis Manning.

Bravo is expected back at Monmouth to ride Sunday's card.

Cochran moves in

Henry Cochran arrived Monday with a string of horses from Churchill Downs. Although this is the first time the trainer has set up shop here, Cochran is no stranger to Monmouth.

A former assistant to Tom Skiffington, Cochran often shipped into Monmouth to run horses for that stable. Cochran branched out on his own in 1994 and has alternated between the Fair Grounds in the winter and Kentucky in recent seasons.

A former steeplechase rider from Maryland, Cochran also worked for Joe Cantey when that trainer had top runners Temperence Hill and Majesty's Prince.

* Pat Bottazzi, the leading trainer at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 1991, got back in the game Wednesday when he claimed Gala Gold Country for $10,000 in the fifth race. Bottazzi has not been active for several seasons.