05/29/2001 12:00AM

Dont Tell the Kids returns

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Dont Tell the Kids, the winner of the 1999 Grade 3 Sapling, returns to Monmouth for Thursday's feature, a $43,000 optional claiming allowance at six furlongs.

Owned by O. Wayne Link, Dont Tell the Kids won his maiden and then the Sapling here in 1999, while trained by Bob Durso. On Thursday, Dont Tell the Kids makes his first start for new trainer Charlie Harvatt, and will break from post 1 with Jose Ferrer in the saddle.

"He came into my barn on May 3, so I really don't know that much about him," Harvatt said. "I want to run him here to get to know him a little better."

Opening numbers

Despite inclement weather throughout the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Monmouth drew a total of 52,349 fans over the three days. Saturday's opening day attendance of 18,226 was the largest crowd at any racetrack in the nation on that day.

Total purses for the holiday weekend topped $1 million for the first time in track history: $1,368,500 was distributed in purse money in 34 races. More than $13 million was bet on the three-day card.

"Considering the weather, we're off to a terrific start," said Monmouth vice president and general manager Bob Kulina. "We had great crowds and betting, and the racing has been outstanding."

The sole turf race run on the weekend was the $150,000 Grade 3 Red Bank on Memorial Day, won by jockey Joe Bravo and Pavillon, a Brazilian-bred 7-year-old horse trained by Marty Wolfson. All the other grass races were switched to the main track, including Sunday's Jersey Derby. Mystic Lady, trained by Mark Hennig, joined Who Did It and Run, the 1998 winner, as the only fillies to win the Jersey Derby.

The oldest derby in the nation with its first running in 1864, the Jersey Derby previously was run at Garden State Park, before moving to Monmouth in 1999.

* Eibar Coa started strongly at Monmouth, after shifting his tack here from south Florida. On opening day, he swept the sixth, seventh, and eighth races, but was winless on Sunday. Coa traveled to Churchill Downs on Memorial Day, riding five races, including the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup aboard the fourth-place finisher Open Story for trainer Dale Romans. Coa plans to fly back to Florida to ride at Calder Mondays and Tuesdays, Monmouth's dark days.