07/03/2003 12:00AM

A definite horse for the course


ELMONT, N.Y. - Little has gone right for Green Fee since he upset the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap here last October. Trainer Danny Peitz hopes a little home cooking can help get Green Fee going again.

Green Fee returns to his favorite course and distance on Saturday when he heads an 11-horse field entered to run in the Grade 3, $100,000 Poker Handicap at one mile over the Belmont turf course. Green Fee, a 7-year-old son of Green Dancer, is 6 for 12 at Belmont, 1 for 19 everywhere else.

The Poker has been on Green Fee's schedule since last winter when he was running at Fair Grounds. Peitz was pleased with Green Fee's effort in the Col. Bradley Handicap, where he couldn't overcome post 11 and was beaten only 2 1/2 lengths. Green Fee finished ninth in the Connally Breeders' Cup Handicap at Sam Houston when he reacted negatively to night racing.

Rain wreaked havoc with the rest of Green Fee's schedule. One race was rained off the turf and rain prevented entries from ever being taken for another. In between, Green Fee missed the Fort Marcy Handicap because he was sick.

Thus, the Kelso will be Green Fee's first start in 20 weeks. Last year, Green Fee won a high-priced claimer over this course coming off a 200-day layoff.

"For a horse that loves Belmont so much it's kind of frustrating that we haven't run here yet [this year],'' Peitz said. "But he's run well off the layoff before so I'm not worried about him being fit enough.''

Green Fee, the 117-pound highweight, will break from post 9 under Jose Santos.

Finality is another Belmont turf course lover who has not been out in a while. A 4-year-old son of Dehere, Finality is 4 for 5 at Belmont, including a victory in the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap last Sept. 22. He was sidelined with a tendon injury, according to trainer Todd Pletcher.

"He obviously likes Belmont,'' Pletcher said. "On his day, he's capable of running with those horses.''

Saint Verre has not been on the turf since he finished second to Volponi in last year's Poker. Equerry won the first five starts of his career - including a pair of Group 3 races in France - but has lost his last five starts. He gets Lasix for the first time on Saturday.

Bobby Frankel has shipped in War Zone from his Hollywood Park barn. He was hampered by a slow start in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park in his last start.