08/18/2005 12:00AM

Confront needs best behavior in Sapling

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - A very confident Tim Kelly sends out Confront in the 71st running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Sapling Stakes on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

A six-furlong race, the Sapling is the meet's top event for 2-year-olds and has attracted seven runners in search of their first graded victory.

, a gelded son of Line in the Sand, has a win and two seconds in three starts, all at Monmouth. He made his first start June 3, in the same race Praying for Cash made his highly anticipated debut and lived up to the hype, surging on the turn to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Confront, a 15-1 longshot, kept digging in to easily hold second.

"Even when Praying for Cash went by, he still tried to catch him," Kelly said. "I think Praying for Cash is the best 2-year-old in the country."

Confront won his maiden next time out and most recently finished second in the 5 1/2-furlong Tyro Stakes, Monmouth's Sapling prep. Confront was fractious in the gate and expended a lot of energy before the Tyro. Despite that, he missed by only three-quarters of a length.

"We've been schooling him in the gate," Kelly said. "The added distance will definitely help him."

Also returning for the Sapling are He's Got Grit, the front-running Tyro winner, and The Village Vicar, who was fifth.

is unbeaten in two starts, both for Steve Asmussen, the national leader in training victories. He's Got Grit made his debut at Churchill Downs in a claimer and then made a smooth transition into stakes company.

did not have a smooth trip in the Tyro, getting brushed in the lane, and trainer Jim Ryerson said he hopes for a cleaner journey and a more favorable pace scenario. "Nobody could cut into the speed that day," Ryerson said. "Hopefully we'll get a little different scenario this time. We don't know if he's good enough. We'll find out."

The Village Vicar will add blinkers for the Sapling.

Ballado Dancer comes down from Canada to make his first start away from Woodbine. He was fourth in the Victoria in his debut and followed that with a pacesetting win.

Caleb Pond was third to Henny Hughes in the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park last time out, finishing 16 1/4 lengths back.

Broadway Ridge and Diabolical each won his lone start.