09/13/2007 12:00AM

It's Tap Gold's time to shine

EmailAn injury and a major illness robbed Tap Gold of much of her career.

At 5, the mare finally has enjoyed a stretch of good health that allowed her talent to shine through.

She makes only her 10th career start Saturday night in the $60,000 Long Look Stakes for fillies and mares at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The Long Look and the $65,000 Formal Gold Stakes top the 10-race card that gets under way at 7:30 p.m.

Tap Gold faces four rivals in the Long Look at 1 1/8 miles. She made her stakes debut last time out, finishing second to Prop Me Up in Monmouth's Lady's Secret Stakes on Aug. 5.

"She ran very well that day," said Rob Rader, assistant trainer to Mark Hennig. "It looked like at the top of the lane she would be third or fourth, but she dug in there and came back to be second."

Last year, the mare broke a bone in her withers when she flipped over while getting a bath at Belmont Park. The recovery was further complicated by pneumonia.

"She lost 300 to 400 pounds and she looked awful," Rader said. "They thought she was going to die, but she made it through it."

Tap Gold recovered well enough to have a solid season this year. She is 2-2-1 in five starts.

"It's been a struggle, but she's come through it, and she is really a very, very sound horse," Rader said.

Javier Castellano will ride.

Tap Gold squares off again with Prop Me Up, who puts a two-race winning streak on the line.

Lila Paige takes a huge class plunge, dropping into this overnight stakes from the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, where she was beaten 19 1/2 lengths.

Daytime Promise and Peak Maria's Way complete the field.

Formal Gold: Confucius stretches out

The Formal Gold, the prep for the $500,000 Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 5, also attracted only five betting interests. Trainer Gary Contessa sends out an entry of Indian War Dance and Angelic Aura. Both joined his barn this year via claims.

Confucius Say is the most intriguing horse in the 1 1/16-mile race. He stretches out after earning a 113 Beyer Speed Figure in a 12 1/2-length rout in the Charles Town Dash Handicap at seven furlongs on Julyo4. He'll be tough to catch – if he can carry that raw speed the added distance.

Completing the field are Five Steps, Take the Bluff, and Sleek John.