05/22/2003 11:00PM

For Green Fee, Jaipur a homecoming


ELMONT, N.Y. - Green Fee, who feels right at home on the turf at Belmont Park, returns there Monday in the $100,000 Jaipur Handicap.

Green Fee, who is trained by Dan Peitz, has run twice this year, finishing fifth and ninth in stakes at Fair Grounds and Sam Houston. In the seven-furlong Jaipur, he will try to add to his exceptional Belmont turf record of 6-3-1 in 12 starts.

Green Fee, a 7-year-old son of Green Dancer, hasn't raced at Belmont since winning the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap Oct. 5 of last year.

The horse's win in the one-mile Kelso earned him a berth in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Mile at Arlington Park Oct. 26. At odds of 45-1, Green Fee finished fifth, beaten three lengths, in the 14-horse field.

Peitz, who trains Green Fee for Robert and Lawana Low, said he would love to give Green Fee another shot at the BC Mile, which this year will be run at Santa Anita. In the meantime, Peitz will probably keep Green Fee running over the surface he adores.

"We are basically thinking Belmont," said Peitz, who is targeting the $100,000 Poker, a one-mile race July 5, for Green Fee's next start after the Jaipur. "Seven-eighths might be a little short for him. He'll have to reel them in this race, but I think he has a shot. The one time I ran him at the distance, he didn't get enough pace."

Peitz said Green Fee is a bit of a character and therefore has special housing accommodations. The horse lives in a stall that is attached to the outside of Peitz's Belmont barn. From the front of his stall, Green Fee can check out the activity in the barn across the way. In the back of the stall, Green Fee has a window that looks into Peitz's shedrow.

"He was almost acting like a basket case when he was inside - I think he gets claustrophobic," Peitz said. "As soon as we put him outside, he became more relaxed. This is his third year out here."

Jerry Bailey will ride Green Fee, who was assigned 118 pounds as the starting highweight. Other probables for the Grade 3 Jaipur include Equerry (117), No Excuse Needed (116), Music's Storm (115), and Garnered (112).

Lunar Sovereign stakes-bound

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was extremely pleased with Lunar Sovereign's good-looking win in a third-level allowance race last Wednesday, but he isn't rushing into making a decision on the 4-year-old's next start.

"He is a stakes horse," said McLaughlin, who is off to a great start at the meet, having won with three of his first four starters. "It's just a question of what direction we go."

Lunar Sovereign, who is owned by the Maktoum family of Dubai, won the 1 1/8-mile turf race by 3 3/4 lengths and covered the final furlong in 11.83 seconds over a good course. The final time was 1:50.64. The Kentucky-bred son of Cobra King is 3 for 3 on the turf at Belmont.

McLaughlin didn't rule out the Grade 1 Manhattan at 1 1/4 miles June 7 for Lunar Sovereign's next start.

"It's a big step up, but it is there and a possibility," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin hasn't formulated a plan for Abreeze, who won a money allowance race here May 16. Last year, Abreeze ran in a couple New York stakes races, including the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap, in which he finished second to Evening Attire.

"I don't know if he is quite up to the Brooklyn [Handicap] standards," McLaughlin said. "I'll play it by ear with him."

* The $750,000 Metropolitan Mile Handicap headlines Monday's holiday card and will follow the Jaipur as the ninth race on a 10-race card. The simulcast of the $300,000 Lone Star Handicap is a special event on the program and will be run after Belmont's live card at 6:14 p.m.

Seven are expected in the Grade 1 Met Mile: Congaree, Aldebaran, Najran, Proud Citizen, Wake at Noon, Peeping Tom, and Saarland.

* On Memorial Day, fans will receive a free t-shirt commemorating the 25-year anniversary of Affirmed's Triple Crown win.

* Belmont will be dark Tuesday and Wednesday this week.