08/29/2003 11:00PM

Freedom's Honor vs. elders


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Jamie Woodington wanted to run 3-year-old Freedom's Honor against horses his own age, but with no suitable race available, Woodington decided to run him against older horses in Monday's $45,000 Castle Guard Stakes at Monmouth Park.

"You try not to run 3-year-olds against older company, but nothing for straight 3-year-olds was on the horizon, so we'll try this," Woodington said.

The Castle Guard is for New Jersey-breds, which gave Woodington more incentive to run Freedom's Honor. "I try and support the New Jersey-bred program," Woodington said.

Freedom's Honor puts a three-race winning streak on the line against five statebreds going 1 1/16 miles. The last two victories came in one-mile races, one on the main track, the other against New Jersey-breds on the turf in the Colts Neck Stakes.

The latest win was in an open-company allowance in which Freedom's Honor dug in to win by a nose.

"Freedom's Honor has a lot of ability," Woodington said. "To tell you the truth, I think he waited on a horse before he went back to running. He's not as focused mentally as you'd like but then again, he's a 3-year-old that we didn't put much pressure on last year. That kind of effort was nice to see."

Freedom's Honor will need another strong effort to handle 7-year-old gelding Beknown to Me, who pressed the pace and held for second in his latest outing, the Jersey Breeders Handicap.

Also on the card is the $60,000 Icecapade Stakes at six furlongs, which features a rematch between Crossing Point and Take Achance on Me, the top two finishers in the Dave's Friend Stakes at Laurel on Aug. 9.

Baze uninjured in spill

Red-hot apprentice Michael Baze escaped injury in the first race Saturday when he was knocked off his mount. Gadget Man made a sharp left turn shortly after the start and plowed into Stormin Pattie, ridden by Baze. Baze fell off his horse but was able to fulfill his remaining mounts.

Horsemen pick up expenses

The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association will cover the expenses to return the body of Antonio Figueroa to Mexico.

Figueroa, who worked for trainer Raymond Einhorn, was stabbed to death in the early hours of Thursday morning on the Monmouth backstretch.

Lawrence Rainey, another stable hand, was arrested and charged with Figueroa's murder.

* With Monmouth racing Monday, the track will be dark Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Live action resumes Thursday.