07/02/2007 11:00PM

Higher purses draw strong fields


ELMONT, N.Y. - The main attractions Thursday are a trio of first-level allowance races, but the purse increases that go into effect Wednesday make them well worth winning. The third and eighth races are divisions of an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles for both sexes. Purses for those races are now $56,000, an increase of $10,000.

Race 3 is the male division, with a field of seven that includes the Nick Zito-trained entry of Comprise and Always Albert, who are both returning from layoffs.

Comprise has not started since March, when he upset a field of maidens at 95-1 in his second career start.

Always Albert, a New York-bred, makes his first start since running fifth in the Albany Stakes last August. He was a three-time winner at Belmont's 2006 spring-summer meet.

Bentrovhto is the lone horse entered for the $75,000 claiming price, after winning his first-level allowance condition at Delaware Park last time out. He has won 2 of 4 starts since being claimed by Michael Gorham, and has finished in the money in six straight starts since adding blinkers.

R J's Brigade and Firemist have each made one start at the meet, and either or both figure to contend if able to hold form. R J's Brigade earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 90 finishing third behind the promising Winstrella on May 28. Firemist enters in the best form of his career, after beating second-level New York-bred rivals in his return from a short layoff.

Race 8 is the filly division, a field of six where Lauren's Tizzy and Mama Theresa, a pair of 4-year-old New York-breds, give weight to four open 3-year-old rivals. Lauren's Tizzy has won 2 of 3 starts since returning from more than a year on the sidelines. Mama Theresa has won three times this year, including a triumph at this level. She drops from a pacesetting try in an overnight stakes and may be the one to catch breaking from the outside.

Delta Breeze and Lost Etiquette are likely to vie for favoritism, and figure to be rallying late.

Race 7 is a one-mile allowance for New York-breds that formerly offered a $44,000 purse and is now worth $50,000. Raven H and Stopbluffing, who raced against the grain of a speed-favoring track when they met last month, are contenders if able to rebound to their best efforts.