07/11/2001 11:00PM

Class droppers hope it's time to wake up


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The $75,000 Inside Information Stakes contains a common thread: turf fillies and mares dropping down from graded stakes to an easier spot in hopes of grabbing a nice winner's check.

Most of the eight horses entered in Saturday's feature at Monmouth Park have found graded stakes competition too tough for the time being. In the Inside Information, run at one mile on the turf, the field is wide open and offers a number of handicapping angles.

Efficient Frontier, trained by Todd Pletcher, is rounding into top form at the perfect time. She won arguably the toughest fillies and mares allowance here June 21, sitting off a mild pace to win going away under jockey Eibar Coa, who retains the mount. Her running style should be advantageous in a race that figures to have a rapid pace. Previously, she had won an allowance at Aqueduct, and finished third in the Grade 3 Beaugay Handicap to Grade 1 winner Gaviola.

"If she runs like she did in her last race, she'll be tough to beat," said George Weaver, Pletcher's assistant here.

The front end should be crowded. Arty'svirginiagirl exits dirt sprints, including a restricted stakes at Philadelphia Park, and should vie for the early lead. Piazza Di Spagna comes into the race off consecutive wins in high-level claiming races at Belmont. In both wins, she bolted for the lead from the gate and was in front at the finish by more than four lengths. Trained and owned by Rene Araya, she tries stakes competition for the first time, with Chuck Lopez in the reins.

Also likely to contest the pace is Silver Rail. The Linda Rice-trained Silver Rail changed her running style markedly in her last race, and it proved to be effective. She set the fractions in the $40,000 Lady Baltimore Stakes, rather than close from off the pace, and wound up second. Roberto Alvarado will probably be instructed to use the same tactics.

Stakes winners Laurica and Mumtaz could benefit from a drop down in class. Laurica was fourth in the Grade 3 Vinery Matchmaker on June 16, and gains Joe Bravo for the race. Mumtaz has consistently run in graded stakes, and should find this field more manageable. Mumtaz, shipping in from Churchill Downs for trainer Tom Amoss, has shown a liking for the Monmouth grass: she placed in the Grade 3 Eatontown on Haskell Day last year. Carlos Marquez will ride the French-bred Mumtaz.

Rounding out the field are Seaside Deli and Buffalo Bird Woman.