11/03/2004 12:00AM

Futurity prospects give Sleeters a lift

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - This has been a difficult year for the father-and-son team of Gerry and Kevin Sleeter, as they lost two top stakes-winning New Jersey-breds.

Something Smith, winner of the Bernie Dowd Handicap at Monmouth Park, was put down in August after contracting a virulent infection. The mare Whoop's Ah Daisy was retired several weeks later because of chronic bad ankles.

But a barn with young horses always has hope, even in bleak times, and the Sleeters will roll out a promising 2-year-old for both the colt and filly divisions of the New Jersey Futurity Friday night at The Meadowlands Racetrack.

"It always helps to have a baby come up and do some running," Gerry Sleeter said.

The Sleeters, annually among the leading breeders in the New Jersey program, send out Who's the Cowboy against the males and first-timer Summer Sting against the females in the annual juvenile showcase of the leading horses bred in the state.

Who's the Cowboy will be one of the solid choices in his $67,000 race. The homebred made his last four starts in open company, finishing second in stakes in his last two outings.

"This should be a little easier for him," said Gerry Sleeter, who works closely with Kevin, the trainer of the family operation. "With a little luck, we should look all right in that race."

Who's the Cowboy looks better than all right. He earned a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 75 for a second-place finish in the Big M's Comet Stakes. That number is tops of among horses in the race. Eddie King will ride.

In the $76,000 filly division, Summer Sting debuts following a string of solid workouts. She worked a bullet in her most recent drill, five furlongs in 1:01 on Oct. 27 at Monmouth.

"She's been breezing good," said Gerry Sleeter. "She is out of the same mare [Summer Semester] as Summer Swing and Something Smith. We've had stakes winners out of the mare."

Among those who have run, I'mtoogoodtobetrue posted a strong 83 Beyer in her maiden win last time out. Harry Vega has the mount.

Ensenada earns stakes try

Ensenada was impressive in her first two-turn assignment, drawing away to an

8 3/4-length victory in a Big M allowance race. That effort encouraged trainer Alan Goldberg to try her in a stakes for the first time, in the $60,000 Honey Bee on Friday at The Meadowlands.

"She's been doing better and really coming into her own," said Goldberg. "She came out of that race very well and we're hoping she can get a piece of this."

Ensenada earned a lifetime best 77 Beyer for the win. She faces six rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Honey Bee for 3-year-old fillies.

Richetta, trained by Robin Graham, will be one of the other key contenders, following her third-place finish in the Maryland Million Oaks.

Namequest vs. Rudirudy in Edison

The $60,000 Thomas Edison at five furlongs on the turf completes the Big M's four stakes on Friday night. It is the last grass stakes of the meet, and it attracted a solid field, including Namequest, winner of the Maryland Million Turf Sprint Handicap.

Namequest is part of a three-horse entry along with Nortouch and Quest of Fate from Bowie-based trainer Ben Feliciano,Jr.

Namequest, who has won four straight, will make his Meadowlands debut. Tommy Turner was named to ride.

The field also includes the venerable Rudirudy from the barn of Gaston Sandoval.

A 9-year-old gelding, Rudirudy ran one of his best recent races last time out in a division of the My Frenchman Stakes at The Meadowlands. He rallied to dead heat for second with Cumby Texas, a nose behind the winner, Manofglory.

* Jockey agent Kevin Lyons is now booking mounts for Julien Pimentel in addition to long-time client Jose Velez Jr. Lyons is undecided about his winter plans after the Big M closes Nov. 13. He might join Pimentel at Aqueduct for the winter or head south to help Chuckie Lopez launch his comeback from shoulder surgery at Gulfstream Park.

* Stewart Elliott, who catapulted to national fame this spring aboard Smarty Jones, will ride at Aqueduct this winter. Elliott is currently third in the Meadowlands standings.

* Apprentice jockey Rajiv Maragh won three races Tuesday afternoon to move into second place in the Meadowlands standings. Joe Bravo holds a 25-22 lead.

* Meadowlands bettors wagered $1,999,720 on the Breeders' Cup, a 4 percent increase over last year.

* Two Cup winners had Monmouth Park connections. BC Classic winner Ghostzapper proved his ability to handle two turns with his victory in the Iselin Handicap. Better Talk Now, the BC Turf winner, was the runner-up in the Battlefield Stakes. Monmouth will host the Breeders' Cup in 2007.