05/31/2005 11:00PM

Evil Minister faces proven turfers


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Evil Minister returns to Monmouth Park, the scene of his biggest victory, in search of a confidence-restoring win.

Trainer Eric Juvonen will try a switch to turf on Friday in a bid to get Evil Minister back in the winner's circle for the first time since he pulled off the upset last summer in the Grade 3 Sapling, Monmouth's top 2-year-old stakes. Evil Minister unexpectedly burst on the scene that day when he outdueled Park Avenue Ball at 24-1.

But it has not been a productive season for Evil Minister, a son of Deputy Minister. In the Swale Stakes and Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and the LaBelle Memorial at Delaware Park, he has not been closer than 17 1/2 lengths to the winner.

Evil Minister makes his grass debut in a $41,000 allowance race at 1 1/16 miles. He faces experienced grass runners - every other runner in the field owns at least one grass win.

All four career wins for Foreverness have come on turf. A regular competitor in New York-bred grass stakes, Foreverness made his season debut May 15 with a fifth-place finish in the Kingston Handicap for statebreds at Belmont Park.

King's Coronation, also making his second start of the campaign, should be fit and ready following a turf allowance win at Belmont on May 5.

Broome wins off one-year layoff

Eddie Broome is one of the best trainers at Monmouth with fresh runners. He again demonstrated that prowess with Salt Flat Kid on Saturday.

A 4-year-old New Jersey-bred gelding, Salt Flat Kid returned from a one-year layoff to duel Four O Won into submission before drawing off to the victory.

"We try to get them ready first time out," Broome said. "We're not over there trying to give them a race. We want to try and strike."

Layoffs are part of the Broome program. He believes in freshening up his stock when needed, and Salt Flat Kid is a case in point.

Last year, the horse suffered what Broome called a minor leg injury and was given a lengthy recuperation.

"We knew he had some ability, so there was no point in trying to get back for the end of last meet," Broome said. "We gave him all the time he needed and he's come back good from it."

Salt Flat Kid improved his record to 2-1-1 in five career starts.

Ambition Unbridled loves firm turf

Ambition Unbridled is a possibility for a return appearance in Monmouth's $55,000 Candy Eclair Stakes for fillies and mares on Saturday, said Gammy Vazquez, who trains Ambition Unbridled for Michael Gill.

Ambition Unbridled won the Candy Eclair last year over a firm course, and Vazquez hopes for similar footing this weekend.

Vazquez wouldn't mind an off-the-turf scenario, either. He would like anything but soft turf, which Ambition Unbridled caught last time in The Very One Stakes at Pimlico on May 20.

"She stumbled very badly coming out of the gate and then was forced very wide," Vazquez said.

Ambition Unbridled finished 11th.

This has been a less-frenzied Monmouth meet for Vazquez, who was third in the standings last year.

Gill has not claimed a horse this meet, in contrast to the last two years, when the owner aggressively played the claiming game. Instead of constantly shopping for claims, Vazquez has narrowed his focus to training the 35-horse division.