08/12/2005 12:00AM

'Cowboy' to test open ability

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Who's the Cowboy returns to open stakes company Sunday in the Rumson Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.

A New Jersey-bred gelding, Who's the Cowboy has won 3 of 5 starts this season, with all but one race coming against statebreds. Who's the Cowboy showed open-stakes ability last season with second-place finishes in the Rockhill Native at Monmouth and the Comet at The Meadowlands Racetrack.

Like most horses in the barn, Who's the Cowboy is a homebred for the father-son team of Gerry and Kevin Sleeter. Gerry, the father, is listed as the owner, with Kevin the trainer. In reality, they work side by side every morning.

The Sleeters are enjoying another solid Monmouth season, with eight wins. Since they own most of the horses in the barn, the $332,500 in meet earnings goes right to their bottom line.

"We've been racing for purses that are pretty good," Gerry Sleeter said. "We haven't won a lot of races, but moneywise we're doing pretty good."

It could get even better, with the Rumson at hand and some of the stable's 2-year-olds getting ready to run.

Who's the Cowboy faces five rivals, including Miracle Man, who cuts back to a sprint after running third in Monmouth's Spend a Buck Stakes, and Euro Code, the commanding winner of the Oh Say Stakes at Delaware Park.

Thompson stable on the upswing

Only the weather is hotter than trainer J. Willard Thompson at Monmouth.

Thompson won two races on Wednesday and two more on Thursday. Thompson, Monmouth's leading trainer in 1975, 1976, 1977, and 2001, has been around long enough to know that success runs in cycles.

"The first few times I run a horse, I don't push them much," Thompson said. "Then it starts to cycle around. It's better known as the pendulum. We haven't done anything different. Luck just changes sometimes."

Stressed turf course closed Friday

Monmouth canceled turf racing Friday for "course maintenance," said racing secretary Mike Dempsey. Monmouth hoped to have the course back in action for the weekend.

"It's been very hot and dry, and the jockeys felt the outside of the course was breaking away from them," Dempsey said.

Restorative measures undertaken Friday included extensive watering, removal of the temporary rail to open the inside paths closest to the hedge, and rolling of the course.

"With all the heat, it's just been stressed out," Dempsey said.

R Lady Joy going to Alabama

Trainer Kirk Ziadie will send R Lady Joy to the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga on Aug. 20, bypassing the Grade 3 Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks on Sunday.

Timing and circumstances made the Alabama more appealing, he said. R Lady Joy, the winner of the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks on July 16, gets an extra week of rest and will be part of a field that lost two top contenders in Smuggler and Summerly.

Ziadie, spending his first summer at Monmouth, has never run a horse at Saratoga.

Fourstardave possible for 'Hotstuf'

Norman Pointer is taking a long look at Saratoga's Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap on Aug. 27 for Hotstufanthensome following the gelding's game effort that missed by three-quarters of a length last weekend in Monmouth's Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes.

"If the horse is good, I'll probably go to the Fourstardave," Pointer said. "He's eating good, feeling good, and he was bucking and rolling in the round pen."

A 5-year-old, Hotstufanthensome had traffic trouble in last year's Fourstardave, rallying for fourth when finally clear.

Hotstufanthensome is in fine form. The narrow loss in the Oceanport ended a two-race winning streak that included Monmouth's Elkwood Stakes.