06/07/2009 11:00PM

Ever Always has others thinking second


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Chuck Spina has a healthy respect for Ever Always, the obvious favorite Wednesday in a $52,000 second-level allowance for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares at Monmouth Park.

Respect, not fear. Spina will try to pull off an upset with Yankee Empress, a filly he trains and co-owns. The six-furlong feature attracted a field of 10.

The lone 3-year-old in the field, Ever Always is unbeaten in her two races, both at Monmouth. A homebred for Dennis Drazin, she debuted last summer, missing by a neck before gaining the victory when Love That Dance was disqualified. Love That Dance, winner of the Open Mind Handicap last month, has emerged as one of the leading statebred female sprinters.

Ever Always didn't run again until May 16, when she demolished a first-level allowance field by 9 1/4 lengths, earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure that dwarfs the competition on Wednesday.

Elvis Trujillo, leading rider at the meet, will be aboard for trainer Jason Servis.

It could be a spot where everyone else is running for second money.

"She's a tough horse, but I'd take second," Spina said.

"Nothing wrong with getting a couple of checks. In the New Jersey-bred races, you hope you get your chance, and usually do, when the tougher ones get out of the way. I expect my filly will run well again. Whether she can beat that other horse, well, we're going to give it a shot."

Yankee Empress made her season debut Mayo17. After spending the winter at J.J. Crupi's farm in Florida, Yankee Empress turned in a trio of strong works at Monmouth. The morning form translated to the afternoon as Yankee Empress ran second to 4-5 favorite Arctic Rain.

"She ran awesome off the layoff," Spina said. "That favorite was just a better horse. Most of the horses from the farm need a race or two, but I knew she would run big off because she was training great. I was very happy."

Pablo Fragoso has the return call.

A key horse could be Tres Emilias, also from the Arctic Rain race. Well backed at 5-2 in her 2009 debut in that race, Tres Emilias was bumped hard at the start and knocked off her preferred speed/stalking trip.

She will look to improve on that seventh-place finish with Eddie Castro on board again.