05/08/2008 12:00AM

Decathlon best fit for Ravalo


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Donald Barr had two appealing options on Saturday for Ravalo, his solidly developing sprinter.

After weighing the pros and cons, Barr decided to run the 4-year-old Ravalo at Monmouth Park in the $70,000 Decathlon Stakes.

Barr also took a look at Belmont's Bold Ruler Handicap. Ravalo ran well in his two visits to New York over the winter, winning an overnight stakes at Aqueduct before finishing third in the slop in the Grade 3 Toboggan Handicap behind Sir Greeley and Man of Danger.

"That race proved to me he was capable of running with those kinds of horses," Barr said. "I'm trying to pick the best spot and I think it's a little better at Monmouth."

Barr is looking at the Decathlon as a prep for a return to Presque Isle Downs to run in the $100,000 Karl Boyes Memorial Northwestern Pennsylvania Stakes on June 1.

Ravalo posted a pair of impressive allowance wins last September in Presque Isle's inaugural season. Those two victories marked a turning point in the gelding's career, triggering a 6-0-1 run over the last 8 starts, including a victory last time out in the Allen's Prospect Stakes at Pimlico on April 19.

"He's a pretty nice horse," Barr said. "He runs hard. He's not a superstar. He doesn't have dazzling ability but he comes to run all the time. If you take care of him, he'll take care of you."

Mike Luzzi, aboard for both Aqueduct races, will come down from Belmont to ride.

The Decathlon also marks the comeback for local favorite Joey P. The New Jersey-bred Joey P., 11 for 17 at Monmouth, makes his first start since he sustained a foot injury at the end of December at Aqueduct that required a month of stall rest.

"He's training good and doing fine," said trainer Ben Perkins Jr. "He loves the track. He likes being home. We were always planning to have him ready for the start of the meet. It's like he never left."

As usual, Joe Bravo will ride.

Praying for Cash tries to regroup in this spot, his debut for trainer Jim Ryerson. He was the leading 3-year-old based at Monmouth in 2006, scoring a win in the Grade 3 Long Branch Stakes before finishing second to Bluegrass Cat in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational while a member of the Kelly Breen barn. He has struggled since then for trainers Todd Pletcher and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Jose Lezcano gets the mount.

Completing the field are Unbridled Behavior, Gold Trippi, Roaring Lion, Maddy's Lion, and Celtic Innis.