09/30/2009 11:00PM

Joey P. aims to make comeback in Eillo


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Joey P. is moving closer to a comeback.

Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. is targeting the $65,000 Eillo Stakes on Oct. 23 at the Meadowlands as Joey P.'s first race since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in June.

A 7-year-old gelding just shy of $1 million in career earnings, Joey P. captured the 2007 Eillo, and has won both his starts at the Meadowlands.

Joey P. resumed galloping at Monmouth Park in August and has turned in a pair of bullet works in September.

Perkins remains amazed at how little training Joey P. requires to return to form.

"He's very solid," Perkins said. "You can't see any effects of the surgery. You can't even see a scar line. He's come back good. He's doing well."

Perkins has mapped out a conservative comeback: one or two starts, perhaps including an allowance race at Aqueduct, and then some time off before Monmouth resumes next spring and Joey P. takes another crack at the John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds, a race he has already won three times.

"We're going to try and be a little more cautious with him," Perkins said. "He's getting up there in age, so we're trying to do the right thing with him. We're not going to rush him."

Jersey runners do well in Maryland Million

John Petrini, Joey P.'s owner, has another New Jersey-bred stakes winner in Love That Dance.

Also trained by Perkins, Love That Dance was part of a successful assault by New Jersey-based horses on last weekend's Jim McKay Maryland Million Day at Laurel.

Talkin About Love, a New Jersey mare owned, trained, and bred by Kevin Sleeter, took the Maryland Million Ladies Stakes. It was the second straight stakes win for the 5-year-old Talkin About Love following her victory in Monmouth's off-the-turf Revidere Stakes on Sept. 12.

Roaring Lion, based at Monmouth all summer with leading trainer Bruce Levine, prevailed in the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap to remain unbeaten in three starts this year. His other two wins in the streak were second- and third-level allowances victories at Monmouth.

Love That Dance captured the one-mile Maryland Million Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, her first victory beyond six furlongs. Setting the pace under continuous pressure, Love That Dance held on by a head.

"It was a one-turn mile and we really thought she had it in her," Perkins said. "She looked like a filly that would stretch out and run the distance."

In her previous route effort, Love That Dance set the pace in the Spruce Fir Handicap for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares in mid-July at August and held well to be second.

"That was a pretty solid race and the way the Maryland race was coming up, she looked like the controlling speed," Perkins said.

She will cut back to six furlongs to face older runners in her next start, the $65,000 Seton Hall Stakes at the Meadowlands on Oct. 24.

Springsteen cover band performs Saturday

If you don't have a ticket for Saturday night's Bruce Springsteen concert at nearby Giants Stadium, the Big M offers the next best thing that afternoon: the B Street Band Tailgate Party in Paddock Park. A Springsteen cover band, B Street will perform during the live racing card, which gets underway at 1:10 p.m.

A series of Springsteen concerts are the reason the Meadowlands is running the first seven cards of the meet in the afternoon. The initial night program will be Oct. 10.

* The Meadowlands will be open this Sunday for simulcasting, a rarity in the fall due to football conflicts. This is the only weekend of the meet when the Giants and Jets are both on the road.