05/28/2003 11:00PM

City Fire-Impolite rematch on turf


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The grass continues to grow lush and green at Monmouth Park as the turf course has yet to be used. The Grade 3 Red Bank Handicap and the Grade 3 Jersey Derby were among the opening-weekend races washed onto the main track by persistent showers.

Hoping against hope, the race office carded two grass races for Thursday and one for Friday. All three were moved to the main track.

If the weather cooperates, grass racing finally will debut Saturday, in time for the $50,000 Revidere Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile.

The race features a rematch between City Fire and Impolite, the top two finishers in the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico, a race slated for the turf but run on the main track.

Nine horses scratched out of the Hilltop following the surface shift, leaving five runners. City Fire, ridden by Jeremy Rose for trainer Mark Shuman, bounced out to a clear lead and was never headed. She coasted to a three-length win as Impolite chased in vain.

The advantage could be in Impolite's favor if the race remains on the grass. Trained by Linda Rice, she romped to victory in a turf allowance at Gulfstream in her race just before the Hilltop.

The Revidere attracted 13 horses. With the temporary rail set 30 feet out from the inner rail, the course can accommodate only nine runners. The other entrants are A Queen's Smile, Bella Tusa, Candybedandy, Grand Natalie Rose, Ladyecho, Lucy Angelicus, One And Twenty, Snowdrops, Uphill Skier, Rubywood, and Our Mariah.

Silver lining in bad weather

Memorial Day weekend was a washout in the New York metropolitan area. Rain throughout the holiday weekend canceled picnics, curtailed outdoor activities, and sent folks scrambling to movie theaters. The foul weather also cast a pall over the opening weekend at Monmouth Park.

Monmouth began its 58th season Saturday afternoon bathed in a cold mist punctured by scattered showers. It did not rain Sunday, but a heavy overcast sky held the temperature to an uncomfortably chilly level. Memorial Day was the worst of the three days with torrential downpours.

Bob Kulina, the track's vice president and general manager, found a silver lining in the soggy weekend: the ontrack betting handle held up remarkably well.

While attendance declined 23 percent compared with 2002 over the three-day period to 37,819, ontrack handle dipped only 1 percent to $6,467,262.

"The weather aside, we actually had a pretty strong opening weekend," Kulina said. "Attendance was off but our handle was very solid. I was very pleased with the response of the horsemen. We had some very nice cards, considering there was no turf. We got off to a good start. I hope it sets the stage for a strong season."

Live racing resumed Thursday afternoon and continues through Sunday. Monmouth begins a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule starting June 4.

Jeremy Rose blooms early

Jeremy Rose was the riding star Thursday with three winners: Bagitdon'tchargeit (third race), Double Cola (fifth), and Thunder Chief (eighth).

The last two were saddled by Shuman for owner Michael Gill.

Joe Bravo won the feature, a $48,000 allowance, aboard Trueamericanspirtit.

Shock wave guidelines issued

Horses treated with shock-wave therapy must be given 10 days to recuperate under a directive issued Thursday by the New Jersey Racing Commission.

The treatment, which uses sound waves similar to those that break up kidney stones, has gained support as a treatment for equine leg injuries.

"The NJRC takes notice that although shock-wave therapy has been used in human medicine for some time, it is a relatively new treatment of orthopedic injuries to horses," said Frank Zanzuccki, the commission's executive director. "The NJRC further notes that researchers who have studied this form of therapy and veterinarians who have used this form of treatment have concluded that it is a beneficial treatment of certain conditions. They have also concluded that it also produces a period of analgesia which could result in an dangerous and unsafe condition for all participants if present during a race."

The commission directive, which takes effect immediately, requires registration of all shock-wave therapy machines with state veterinarians, and that only NJRC licensed veterinarians can administer treatment.

The commission, which met at Monmouth Thursday morning, also approved a race-book license for the Borgata casino set to open over the summer in Atlantic City, and allocated almost $2 million in the Casino Simulcasting Special Fund from 2002. The casino-simulcasting law designates that a portion of race book handle be distributed by the commission at its discretion.

Monmouth, The Meadowlands, and Freehold Raceway each got $412,362, Atlantic City Race Course $151,862, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey $277,362, New Jersey Thoroughbred Breeders Association $133,919, and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horseman's Association received $143,443.