07/09/2007 12:00AM

Hennig fillies enter allowances in strong form


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Mark Hennig sends out a pair of 3-year-old fillies with solid upside potential Wednesday at Monmouth Park.

Both won their maidens last time; both step up to $38,000 first-level allowance races for fillies and mares.

Dattts Awesome faces seven rivals in the sixth race at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. One race later, Christina Lake takes on six going one mile and 70 yards on the main track.

Of the two, Christina Lake is most precocious. This is only the third start for Peter Van Andel's homebred.

She debuted here May 20 going six furlongs. Christina Lake overcame a lunge and a bump at the break to get second. She was an easy winner next time out on June 16 at 1 1/16 miles.

"She seems like a very nice filly, the way she trains and the way she's run both times," assistant trainer Rob Rader said. "She always acted like she wanted to go further and she showed that the other day. She's very rateable and she always finished very well in her works. We're really looking forward to running her back."

Facing winners for the first time is always a concern.

"You always have that in your mind," Rader said. "It's a step up and we'll have to see if she can handle it. I think she's a nice kind of horse."

Joe Bravo, Monmouth's leading rider, who recently passed the 4,000-win mark, has the return call.

Dattts Awesome needed seven tries before winning her maiden in her Monmouth debut on June 10, when she rated behind a hot pace before drawing away to 2 1/4-length win going one mile.

"She ran very well her first time here," Rader said. "She made a very good move around the turn. You felt very confident the way she was going. If she can do something like that again, she might be able to step up and get it done."

Pablo Fragoso rides again.

English Channel eyes Sword Dancer

English Channel came out of his second straight United Nations Stakes victory Saturday in good order and will now be pointed for the Grade 1, $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga on Aug. 11.

Trainer Todd Pletcher prefers that spot to a return appearance in the Arlington Million, where English Channel ran fourth last year.

"We ran twice at Arlington and we really haven't been lucky there," Pletcher said. "I think he might be better around three turns."

The mare Honey Ryder, a late-running second to English Channel in the United Nations, could be bound for Chicago. Pletcher will likely run her back against fillies and mares in the Grade 1, $750,000 Beverly D. at Arlington on Aug. 11.

Nerve unlikely for Long Branch

The Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Monmouth Park probably lost a runner Monday morning when Nerve starting coughing at Aqueduct.

"We scoped him, he's a little dirty," trainer Gary Contessa said. "My intention was to run him, but he's quickly heading onto the improbable list."

The Long Branch is the Monmouth prep for horses hoping for invitations to the track's $1 million Haskell on Aug. 5. Traditionally, the first two finishers in the 1 1/16-mile Long Branch are invited to the Haskell, the richest race run annually at Monmouth.

A small Long Branch field seems likely.

Saratoga Lullaby and First Defence are the only horses left on stakes coordinator Mike Melendez's list of possible Long Branch runners. The undefeated Cable Boy was headed for the Long Branch until trainer John Forbes decided last week to train the horse up to the Haskell.

Nerve had already run here twice this meet, winning the Spend a Buck Stakes before switching to the turf for the first time and encountering a bumpy trip in a sixth-place finish in the Restoration Stakes.

"It's disappointing," Contessa said. "There are so many opportunities for 3-year-old colts that this is not anything that's going to make you lose sleep. There'll be another one for him."

Contessa has now set his sights on the Grade 2, $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes for 3-year-olds going 6 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga on July 30.