07/02/2002 12:00AM

Classic days behind pair of sprinters

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Charioteer and Menacing Dennis were both Triple Crown hopefuls in the spring. While Menacing Dennis did run 10th in the Preakness, the distances of the prep races and the Triple Crown races themselves did not suit the two 3-year-olds. They return to sprinting in the Grade 3, $100,000 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup at Monmouth on Thursday.

The six-furlong Jersey Shore, the ninth race on the card, drew an extremely competitive field of seven 3-year-old sprinters. First post for the July 4 card is 2 p.m.

Menacing Dennis, who will be ridden by Harry Vega, was the most impressive 2-year-old on the grounds last year, as he romped in his maiden victory by 10 3/4 lengths. When he shipped back to California with trainer Jeff Bonde's main stable, he ran well in California statebred stakes before being entered in the Preakness. In the Preakness, Menacing Dennis set the pace through six furlongs before fading to 10th. His last start was a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Leonard Richards at Delaware Park, run at 1 1/16 miles, on June 8.

"I think he's limited beyond a mile at the top level," Bonde said. "He's freshened up for this race, and with a cutback in distance I think he should he should be very competitive."

At Gulfstream Park in the winter, Charioteer, trained by Todd Pletcher, was put on the Triple Crown trail when he crushed an allowance field by 8 1/2 lengths on Feb. 16 as the 2-5 favorite. He set the pace in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 10, but weakened down the lane in that 1 1/16-race to finish fourth. His next route came in the $250,000 Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream Park on April 6, and he tired earlier in the race to finish sixth. He has not raced since then, but he should be sharp at a distance best suited to him and off solid workouts at Belmont.

Two lightly raced colts who should be tough are It's a Monster and Calends. It's a Monster, trained by Ben Perkins Jr., enters the Jersey Shore off a stakes win at Delaware Park and has four wins in six starts in his first year of racing. The Todd Beattie-trained Calends was a 4-5 favorite in the Legal Light Stakes at Delaware on May 25 off a 2 for 2 lifetime record, but he suffered severe heat stroke and ran third. Beattie said Calends has completely recovered from the complications and is geared up for a big effort Thursday.

Grade 3 Nashua winner Listen Here, Boston Common, and Final Table round out the field.

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