08/22/2006 12:00AM

Foreverness has superior class

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Foreverness, a graded stakes winner earlier this year, tops Thursday's optional claiming feature on the turf at Monmouth Park.

The 1 1/16-mile race, for third-level allowance horses or those entered for a $50,000 claiming price, attracted eight runners and two alternates, Trieste's Honor and El Provinciano, who will run only on the main track.

On grass, the 7-year-old Foreverness will be tough. He has run three times since shipping north from Florida for trainer Greg Sacco. His Beyer Speed Figures in those races range from 93 to 97, a level of high consistency no rival in the field can match.

Foreverness also holds a class advantage as he is the race's only graded winner this season after posting a 12-1 upset in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Handicap at Aqueduct in April.

His next two races were New York-bred stakes at Belmont Park.

In the Kingston Handicap on May 14, Foreverness finished fourth, an effort Sacco felt was better than the performance lines indicate.

"It doesn't say it, but he had no where to go from the quarter pole to the eighth pole," Sacco said. "He was in between horses. That was a tough trip."

The Draw Shot Stakes was his most recent effort on July 16 and Foreverness finished second, one length behind Certifiably Crazy, who came back to win the West Point Handicap at Saratoga.

"Foreverness and Certifiably Crazy bumped at the top of the stretch and he blew his left front shoe," Sacco said. "He ran the entire stretch on his left lead. It was a big effort. It is a solid division and the New York-bred turf horses are serious horses."

Foreverness should be sharp following a five-furlong bullet work in 1:00 here on Aug. 18.

Sacco is pointing Foreverness toward the restricted Ashley T. Cole Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 17.

"He's doing super and we wanted to get a prep into him before that," Sacco said. "Joe Bravo worked him and he couldn't have gone any better."

Bravo, Monmouth's leading rider, will be aboard Foreverness, who will be making his 25th career start.

"He's lightly raced," Sacco said. "We take care of him over the winter, so he's a young 7. He's fresh for this race."

The main competition could come from Ballonenostrikes, who missed here by only a head last time out to earn a 93 Beyer.

Cointreau, back on the turf after a 35-length loss behind Park Avenue Ball in the Frisk Me Now on May 27, is the only turf horse entered for the claiming price.