07/01/2006 12:00AM

'Cowboy' stands tall in Colts Neck

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Monmouth Park hopes to offer holiday cards on Monday and Tuesday, provided the New Jersey state budget crisis is resolved.

Gov. Jon Corzine ordered a shutdown Saturday of "non-essential" government agencies, which included the New Jersey Racing Commission. The state's tracks can not offer live, simulcast, or account wagering without NJRC oversight.

If Monmouth is in action Monday, the $60,000 Colts Neck Handicap for New Jersey breds will top a 10-race card starting at 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

Joey P., the dominant New Jersey- bred sprinter, is headed to Florida for his next assignment, a very welcome development for the eight runners in the Colts Neck.

With Joey P. scheduled to face the division leaders in the Grade 2, $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder on July 15, the six-furlong Colts Neck becomes wide-open.

This will be the second start of the season for the 4-year-old Who's the Cowboy, a winner of two open stakes here last season. He finished the campaign running seventh in the Grade 1 De Francis Dash at Laurel.

Who was awaiting him in his comeback, Monmouth's John J. Reilly Handicap for statebreds on May 27? Joey P., of course.

Who's the Cowboy got slammed at the break and never menaced. He finished fourth, 4 1/4 lengths behind Joey P.

"The fact that he only got beat about four lengths by Joey P. was amazing," said owner Gerry Sleeter.

Beyer Speed Figure fans will gravitate to Hey Chub, who has posted the best numbers this year. In three starts, all against open company, Hey Chub has registered Beyers between 87 and 94.

Trainer-owner Danny Lopez has not run the 6-year-old Hey Chub against New Jersey-breds since he cruised to a second-level allowance

victory here more than two years ago. Hey Chub has a record of 1-8-2 in 12 starts since then.

Trueamericanspirit, a consistent stakes campaigner, makes his season debut. He won three New Jersey-bred stakes last year, including a victory over Who's the Cowboy in the Bill Wheeler Handicap last August.