12/14/2001 1:00AM

Grey Ballet forced to sit one out


MIAMI - Grey Ballet has earned more money than all but four of the 19 entered in Saturday's $100,000 Frances A. Genter Stakes, but barring a late scratch she will be excluded from the final turf stakes of the meet for 3-year-old fillies.

The Genter is run under allowance conditions. Only 12 fillies can start because of the confines of the turf course, with highweights preferred. Grey Ballet wound up one of 10 horses assigned 118 pounds, and only six of those could start. She was one of the four who did not draw in.

"To say I am disappointed is an understatement," trainer Leo Azpurua Jr. said on Friday, a day after Grey Ballet wound up on the also-eligible list for the 7 1/2-furlong Genter.

"I'm not blaming anybody but I think they need to change the system to make sure the best horses run in these races. Perhaps if they used money won as the criteria and not weight."

Grey Ballet has won four of 10 career starts and earned $153,385. She may be the best 3-year-old turf filly on these grounds, along with Sara's Success, who will run in the Genter.

The pair have split two recent meetings. Grey Ballet avenged a three-quarter-length setback at the hands of Sara's Success in the Calder Oaks with a half-length victory in the Lenta Stakes.

"She trained extremely well up to this race and I believe she'd have been very competitive," said Azpurua. "She loves this course. Unfortunately this is the last stakes for 3-year-old fillies this year, so if we don't get in I'll probably just wait for Gulfstream to open and pick my spots. While missing the race is a major disappointment, it's not the end of the world. She's still a nice filly with a very good future in front of her."

Monkey Puzzle returns

Monkey Puzzle finished fourth in Thursday's featured ninth race, but trainer Steve DiMauro couldn't have been more pleased with the effort, which was Monkey Puzzle's first start since July of 2000.

"I was very happy with his race," said DiMauro, who trains Monkey Puzzle for owner Joe Graffeo. "Especially since it came at a mile, which is not his distance. He was somewhat fit going in but I didn't want to overdo it the first time back. There was no need cranking him up, but the race should serve as a steppingstone for longer races to come, so long as he holds together."

Monkey Puzzle won Grade 2 Hialeah Turf Cup at 11 furlongs during the spring of 2000, but suffered a condylar fracture of his left foot while finishing fourth in Monmouth's Grade 1 United Nations Handicap 10 weeks later. He returned to training last winter, but pulled a suspensory in his right front leg during his second work on the comeback trail. Monkey Puzzle has had two surgeries since.

"If he had run the race he ran Thursday going a mile back in the old days I'd have been just as happy," said DiMauro. "Maybe I'm being optimistic but off that race he appears to be back as good as ever."