06/30/2005 11:00PM

Frisky Spider returns in tough spot

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Frisky Spider makes his first start since December in the Mr. Prospector at Monmouth.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Frisky Spider, a stakes winner on turf and dirt last year, makes his season debut Sunday in the $65,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Trainer Bob Durso said he shopped for several comeback spots, but none filled. The six-furlong Mr. Prospector on the main track becomes the starting point for Frisky Spider, 4, who makes his first start since December.

"He was ready to run, and I wanted to run him," Durso said. "This gave him another couple of weeks. He's doing good."

Frisky Spider demonstrated versatility as a 3-year-old, with stakes wins in the six-furlong LaBelle Memorial on the main track at Delaware Park and in the Restoration Stakes at one-mile on the grass at Monmouth.

Durso said he ultimately wants to see Frisky Spider back on the turf.

"I'm hoping, now that he's older and more mature, he will get a mile and a sixteenth on the grass," Durso said.

Frisky Spider returns in a tough spot against seasoned sprinters, including Vinemeister. A 6-year-old who captured the 2003 Salvator Mile at Monmouth, Vinemeister rallied for second in the Decathlon Stakes on opening day, May 14, and came back to get fourth in an allowance race May 29.

Trainer Alan Seewald said he regrets jamming the races so close together.

"He runs his best efforts when you give him at least three weeks," Seewald said. "We came back on short notice because the allowance race came up with a short field, and he was one of the favorites. He ran his race, but he never really kicked."

Well rested for Sunday's race, Vinemeister tuned up with a bullet work, five furlongs in 1:00.20, on June 26.

"He's coming into this race feeling good," Seewald said. "There should be no excuses."

Trueamericanspirit is another tough veteran in the field. A 5-year-old New Jersey-bred, he finished fourth most recently in Monmouth's Longfellow Stakes on June 11, a race in which he was bumped at the start.

Rounding out the field are Choose, Bold Days, Pretty Wild, and the entry of Mr. Whitestone and Kazoo.

Apprentice hopes patience pays off

Some apprentice riders, like Steve Cauthen or Kent Desormeaux, instantly rocket to fame. For others, the process takes time and patience.

Ten-pound apprentice Stacy Podobinski won her third race Wednesday with her 85th mount. She began riding last summer as the latest protege of trainer John Forbes, who played an instrumental role in the careers of Hall of Famer Julie Krone and Chuckie Lopez.

"We come from Maryland, and it's a place, in spite of their troubles now, where they raise great horses, and they teach people to be good horsemen," Forbes said. "We try to instill in these kids good citizenship on the racetrack, to be honest and to respect the game. It's more than getting a certificate to go out and start whipping and driving and start thinking you're God's gift to the racetrack."

Podobinski, 23, said she accepts the slow pace of her progress. She won one race last year; she already has two wins at this meet.

"I basically have to be patient and do as much as people give me to do," said Podobinski. "You get a little anxious. I'd like to win some more races, like any other jock would. I feel ready, but there is always room for improvement."