10/17/2003 11:00PM

Improved - and still getting better

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Trainer Debbie Sones hoped to find a horse that could be improved when she claimed Crown Point Summer for $6,000 on Aug. 20 at Monmouth Park.

"I thought he might be a horse we could help turn around," Sones said. "He looked like he was sound, and we thought with work he could improve a little bit."

In three starts for Sones, Crown Point Summer's improvement has been dramatic.

Crown Point Summer aims for a second straight victory on Tuesday in a $32,500 optional claiming race for New Jersey-breds at The Meadowlands.

In his last race, a front-running win going a mile and 70 yards, the 5-year-old Crown Point Summer ran a career best Beyer Figure of 75.

The major concern heading into Tuesday's race is a distance cutback to six furlongs.

"I'm not sure six furlongs is his best distance," Sones said.

With The Meadowlands meet ending Nov. 8, opportunities to run in New Jersey-bred races are dwindling. Sones, fortunately, got Crown Point Summer turned around in time.

"We did a lot of things for him," Sones said. "He had back problems, and I use a chiropractor who also does acupuncture. We also had a dentist work on his teeth. We did a lot of maintenance."

Crown Point Summer gets a new rider in Eddie King. Rachel Lavoy, who had been riding Crown Point Summer, is sidelined following shoulder surgery.

The revival of Crown Point Summer and the return of stakes mare Golden Made from an injury marked a turn of fortune for Sones. She endured a tough summer at Monmouth, with many of her runners sidelined. Sones has a win and two thirds from her first three runners at The Meadowlands. She won only two races all year before the start of the meet.

"Things are starting to go a little bit better," Sones said. "These things go in cycles."

Crown Point Summer faces seven rivals Tuesday, including Sircatour, a homebred 3-year-old colt owned and trained by Eddie Broome.

Sircatour has won two of his last three outings, posting Beyer Figures ranging from 81 to 76. He is the dominant speed horse in the race.

Sircatour will also have a new rider as apprentice Michael Baze replaces Joe Bravo, who is recuperating from a back injury.