05/22/2008 12:00AM

Firm turf will be key to Silent Roar's return


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Michael Moran is keeping a watchful eye on the weather forecasts for the Jersey Shore, hoping for a firm turf course Saturday at Monmouth Park to launch Silent Roar's comeback in the $70,000 Elkwood Stakes.

Moran, the owner and trainer of the 5-year-old gelding, has been shopping for a spot for three weeks. He drew a line through the previous options, including the Dixie Stakes last Saturday on the Preakness undercard, when the courses came up soft.

The worst effort of Silent Roar's 10-race career came in the 2006 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park, where he caught a soft course and lost by 29 1/2 lengths, the only time he has finished off the board.

"The only drawback with the horse is that he can't stand up on soft turf," Moran said. "He likes to hear his feet rattle. The Kent is really the only bad race he's run in his life."

Silent Roar is a drop-back closer who was last seen charging through the lane to win the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes at Monmouth on the Haskell undercard. Unfortunately, he came out of the race with a chip in his right front ankle that required surgery. Moran gave Silent Roar the winter off with the goal of having a fresh horse ready to tackle some ambitious goals, including Monmouth's Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at 1 3/8 miles on July 5 - a Breeders' Cup Challenge Win and You're In event.

"We were just trying to pick out an easy spot to come back and build on that," Moran said. "We're hoping to maybe run in the United Nations. He's a pretty laid-back kind of horse, so I don't think distance is any kind of a problem. He only likes to run the last part of it. The division doesn't seem all that tough right now with horses beating each other."

Silent Roar faces 11 rivals in the one-mile Elkwood, with two more sitting on the also-eligible list. The field includes two other Monmouth stakes winners last season: Buddy's Humor, who took the Jersey Derby, and Icy Atlantic, winner of the Grade 3 Red Bank.

* Joey P. is back in action in the supporting feature, the $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds. He suffered a neck loss on the opening weekend against open company in the Decathlon Stakes.

Joey P. faces seven challengers, including Hey Chub and Who's the Cowboy, one-two in last year's Reilly in a very tight finish.