11/10/2004 1:00AM

Idea for lights at Monmouth largely received as positive move


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Some of the lazy, hazy afternoons at Monmouth Park next summer could be transformed into evenings under the stars.

Richard Codey, who will be sworn in as New Jersey's governor next week, has some strong opinions on how to restore Monmouth to its past glory. Codey, a former horse owner, would start by installing lights for the 2005 season to run evening cards on weekdays, with Saturday and Sunday racing continuing as matinees.

The engineers have already started the studies to determine the costs.

"The issue is in the hands of the engineers and consultants," said Bob Kulina, Monmouth's vice president and general manager. "There is lot of analysis to be done, and then the whole process will be evaluated."

The shift from day to night racing attracted generally positive support among horsemen, who viewed any attempt to spark interest in the sport as a positive move.

"I like it," said trainer Alan Seewald. "I think the weekday attendance has been tailing off, so why not try a change? I think it would bring people in. If they could set up another restaurant and bring in a band, I think it would go over well."

Tim Hills, the leading trainer at Monmouth this summer and a native New Englander, took a cautionary stance based on past experience.

"I was at Rockingham Park in the 1980's when they experimented with every combination of day and night racing," said Hills "It ended up that Friday and Saturday were the best nights. On weekdays, people have other things to do at night. For the most part, Thoroughbred racing is a daytime sport. It's hard to change that."

J. Willard Thompson, who trained horses for the incoming governor in the past, believes Codey will have racing's best interests at heart.

"I'm for anything that will help racing," said Thompson.

Hornshope going for Princeton diploma

The $60,000 Princeton Stakes on Friday is for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, and trainer Derek Ryan hopes this will be the stakes breakthrough for Hornshope.

Hornshope finished last in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in April. Since Ryan got the horse in September, he has placed him more realistically. Ryan has run him four times, including twice on the turf.

"I think those grass races sweetened him up a little," said Ryan.

In his last grass effort, Hornshope lost by 1 1/2 lengths in The Big M's Paterson Stakes from post 9.

Hornshope switched back to the main track for his latest start, an allowance victory in the mud. He maintained his edge with a bullet work Saturday, going four furlongs at Monmouth in 47.40 seconds.

Hornshope will have to deal with Zakocity, who was third in The Meadowlands's Grade 3 Pegasus on opening night and followed that with a victory in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct.