06/16/2004 11:00PM

Frisky Spider takes big test in turf debut


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Frisky Spider faces the most important test of his young career Saturday in the $60,000 Restoration Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Frisky Spider has raw ability, as demonstrated by four wins in his first seven starts.

"He's an awfully talented individual," said veteran jockey Eddie King Jr. "He's got as much talent as any horse I've been on."

That includes Frisk Me Now, the multiple graded-stakes winner who sired Frisky Spider.

But a major question remains.

"Mentally, I don't know if he's ever going to get it," said King.

Frisky Spider is still learning the game, especially the key lesson about forming a bond between rider and horse to create an effective team.

Frisky Spider makes his turf debut in the one-mile stakes for 3-year-olds.

Trainer Bob Durso slated Frisky Spider's last two workouts on the grass in preparation for this spot. Frisky Spider cranked it up Wednesday, blazing three furlongs around the dogs in 34.60 seconds with King aboard.

Frisky Spider did learn an important lesson in his last start, the Gilded Time Stakes at Monmouth on May 29. Normally a strong pace factor, Frisky Spider dropped well behind the leaders in the five-furlong race originally slated for the turf. He uncorked a powerful rally to get third.

"He was very smooth, changing leads beautifully," said Durso. "It was the first time he ever really got a lot of dirt in his face. As soon as Eddie got him clear and got into him a little bit, he took off. Another eighth of a mile, we win easily."

Shining Hawk is another horse who will be looking to do his best running late.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. added blinkers for Shining Hawk's last race, Monmouth's Grade 3 Jersey Derby on May 31. Normally a closer, Shining Hawk raced close to the pace and faded to sixth.

"He might have been a little too eager with the blinkers," said Dutrow. "We cut those back for this race. He needs to relax and settle. That's the only way he's going to run his race."

Don Zimmer, the former New York Yankees coach and Red Sox, Padres, Cubs, and Rangers manager, has more than a passing interest in Shining Hawk. He owns a 5 percent stake in the colt as a member of the IEAH Stable.

Fit Performer in West Long Branch off layoff

Fit Performer, the 7-year-old mare who developed into a stakes performer this year for Dutrow, makes her first start since March in the $65,000 West Long Branch Stakes for filly and mare sprinters on Saturday.

A $25,000 claim in March 2003, Fit Performer relished the inner track at Aqueduct this winter. She scored her first stakes win on New Year's Day, a 6 1/4-length romp in the Interborough Handicap.

"I was very surprised when she won that stakes," said Dutrow. "I told everyone I hope you brought the right horse over."

Fit Performer followed that win with two more excellent Big A stakes efforts, a victory in the Carson Hollow and a second in the Correction.

She was given a rest after finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct. Fit Performer shows a string of five-furlong workouts for her return, including a 1:01.15 drill at Aqueduct on Monday.