10/20/2004 11:00PM

Inaugural Johnson split into divisions


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Meadowlands Racetrack remembers the late Hall of Fame trainer P.G. Johnson Saturday night with the first running of a stakes named in his honor.

Johnson holds the Big M stakes record with 19 victories. His Volponi ran second in the 2002 Meadowlands Breeders' Cup Stakes and used that race as the springboard to his stunning upset in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

The Johnson, for 3-year-old fillies at five furlongs on the turf, was split into a pair of $55,000 divisions.

Zi Night, a maiden winner last time out, wound up in the second division, the ninth race on the card.

Her lone prior grass race was a fourth-place finish going a 1 1/16 miles for trainer Eddie Broome.

"We've tried her short and long on dirt and long on turf. The only thing left is short on turf, and here we are," said Broome. "She's shown she can handle the turf and she has a nice grass pedigree, being by Ghazi."

Zi Night will face several fillies with proven success in turf sprints. Hybernian Stream is unbeaten in both career starts at the distance on the surface at Philadelphia Park, and Ambition Unbridled took Monmouth's Candy ?clair Stakes.

In the other division, the seventh race, trainer Kathy DeMasi has successfully converted Ms. Trick or Treat into a turf sprinter. Ms. Trick or Treat has already won an allowance over the Big M course.

The card also features the $60,000 Holly Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, in which Rush to Glory ships up from Maryland in a bid for a third straight victory for trainer Dale Capuano.