08/09/2001 11:00PM

'Jackson' can run on turf, but a mile?

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Tim Hills has a good eye for turf horses.

Leading all trainers with 12 turf wins at this Monmouth meet, Hills has had tremendous success turning dirt sprinters into route turf horses. H.M.S. Jackson is a 4-year-old Hills trainee who won his only start on turf. On Sunday, he stretches out to one mile in the $50,000 Lincroft Stakes on the grass, which attracted 10 statebreds.

H.M.S. Jackson, owned by the Headless Horsemen Stable, along with Hills and Rich Filosa, has run first or second in four starts this meet, all of which have come at six furlongs on the dirt. He filled out his allowance conditions versus statebreds with two victories, and has moved nicely into stakes company. He ran second to Sea of Tranquility, the Grade 3 Salvator Mile winner, in the Bernie Dowd Handicap on July 22. His lone turf start was at Hialeah this winter, and he went wire to wire in the 5 1/2-furlong sprint. The Lincroft will be his first time around two turns.

"I'm not really convinced he wants to go a mile," Hills said, "but this is a good time to try him."

One of the few experienced turf horses entered in the Lincroft is Catechol. Catechol ran fifth in one of the toughest turf allowances of the meet June 23, only beaten 1 3/4 lengths, and then returned at 12-1 to take an open company allowance under the same conditions nearly one month later. J. Willard Thompson will saddle Catechol, who will be ridden by apprentice Julian Pimentel for the second time.

Beknown to Me, Family Trust, Holiest Punch, Moorish Prince, Selective, Loyal Groom, American Freedom, and Ganache round out the field.

Country Music plays it fast

Country Music leaves nothing to the imagination in his workouts or races. He goes as fast as possible for as long as possible. That was evident on Friday, when Country Music, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Debra Sones, recorded the fastest workout of the meet.

Country Music, with jockey Eibar Coa aboard, worked four furlongs in 45.40, and galloped out five furlongs in 58.40. According to Sones, it was his possibly his best workout ever.

"I told Eibar to let him work within himself," Sones said. "Eibar had his hands down and didn't even ask him to run at all. The horse wasn't even blowing hard when he came back to the barn. He worked very impressively."

Country Music has had an up-and-down career. The way he worked as a 2-year-old it seemed he would become a star, but injuries, including a left knee chip, hindered his progress. He still competed in juvenile stakes, but by his 3-year-old season, he was running for $7,500 and $10,000 claiming tags. Country Music was his own worst enemy, using up all his energy in the paddock before the race.

"When he was younger, he would just fall apart before the race," Sones said. "In the paddock, everyone recognized him because he was always broken out in a total sweat. He just made himself so upset that he couldn't run his best race."

Country Music has put many of those problems aside at Monmouth. All his wins have come at Monmouth, and he has never run well away from the Jersey Shore. "He loves it here, he feels comfortable here," said Sones.

This year, Country Music is back in allowance ranks, winning two out of four this meet. He makes his next start in a second-level statebred allowance on Aug. 19, and soon after, heads up to The Meadowlands.

Sones believes that he may be able to perform well there if he gets a good amount of time to acclimate to the surroundings.

"He is now calm enough to be productive," she said. "He is more mature and acting much better. We'll move him up there before the meet starts and see how he does."

Mazza sends two in Sapling

John Mazza will have a two-pronged attack in the Grade 3 Sapling Aug. 18. He said Friday that Wild Navigator will join his stablemate Capture the Silver in the premier race for 2-year-olds.

Wild Navigator has made both his starts against Jersey-breds. He was beaten a head in his career debut June 30 to another likely Sapling starter, Lil Badger, and then returned a month later to win his maiden by 1 1/2 lengths. Mazza said that both Jersey-bred colts will put in their final workouts for the Sapling on Saturday. Capture the Silver is undefeated in two starts, breaking his maiden and winning an entry-level juvenile allowance.

* The $50,000 Twin Light Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the turf was slated as the Sunday feature, but was not carded because it did not fill.