09/14/2004 11:00PM

Galloping Grocer leads parade of juveniles


Friday's nominal feature is a run-of-the-mill entry-level allowance on turf, but horseplayers looking to catch a glimpse of tomorrow's headliners will focus their attention on the program's three races for 2-year-olds.

The youngster everyone will be watching is Galloping Grocer, who turned heads on Aug. 22 at Saratoga when he romped by nearly a dozen lengths in his debut and came within .20 of the five-furlong track record. Galloping Grocer was a poorly kept secret that day, going off at 4-5 and widening under a mild hand ride from John Velazquez to earn a Beyer Figure of 95.

A repeat of that effort in Friday's third race would overwhelm his four rivals, because none among Keep Sam in Cheq, Dunnell Lane, Chanceux Vous, and Trivilin have run anything better than a 57.

, a gelding by A. P Jet, breaks from the outside in a short field and will likely be 1-9 on the tote board for this preliminary allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Galloping Grocer has had one recorded workout since arriving back at Belmont, a five-furlong move in a sharp 59 seconds last Saturday.

"The work was excellent," said trainer Dominick Schettino, who had a solid Saratoga with six wins. "We rated him behind horses with Velazquez up, and he went very well."

Later on the card, 2-year-olds will stretch to one mile for the first time this season in a pair of maiden races, one on the Widener turf and one on the main track.

The fourth is on the grass, and it drew 16 juvenile fillies, including also-eligibles. Among those to keep an eye on are the Bill Mott-trained , who finished second in her debut back in July after breaking from post 12, and Masseuse, a first-time starter saddled by Jimmy Toner. Masseuse is stuck out in post 11, but is strongly bred for the grass, being out out of the same dam who produced turf stakes winner Buff, an earner of more than $580,000 on grass, and Second Performance, a minor stakes winner at Belmont this year.

A field of 11 2-year-old males kicks off the pick four sequence in the sixth race. Flagstaff, Datsyuk, and Patriot Act showed some ability in sprints at the Spa, and they will be confronted by well-bred newcomers Sir Halory and Gale Force.

Sir Halory, trained by Bobby Frankel, is a half-brother to five stakes winners. Gale Force is a half to Positive Gal, a two-time sprint stakes winner in New York.