06/16/2007 12:00AM

Karen's Caper sets course record


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Karen's Caper broke the course record in the Grade 3, $150,000 Eatontown Stakes for fillies and mares Saturday at Monmouth Park.

The 5-year-old ran 1 1/16 miles on the firm course in 1:39.48 in her season debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.

In Return set the old mark of 1:39.91 last summer.

It was a picture-perfect trip for Karen's Caper ($4.20) and Brice Blanc, who flew in from California for the mount.

They had the outside post in the seven-horse field, and Blanc guided Karen's Caper into fourth in the early stages.

"The race unfolded exactly as we were hoping," Blanc said. "I really liked the outside post, especially coming out of the chute. The only worry I had was Pommes Frites getting away from me."

Up front, Pommes Frites, also making her season debut, was eager for the lead. She had early company from Prop Me Up as Karen's Caper was traveling along comfortably.

At the top of the lane, Pommes Frites tried to sprint clear but the fractions took a toll in midstretch.

Karen's Caper had the best late kick, beating Redaspen by a half-length with Roshani third.

"When I asked her to pick it up, she really kicked home for me," Blanc said.

Karen's Caper, who started her career in Europe, earned her second U.S. stakes victory. She won the Grade 3 Noble Damsel Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park last year.

Rahy's Appeal was fourth, followed by Pommes Frites, Royal Pleasure, and Prop Me Up in the first graded stakes of the season at Monmouth before a crowd of 10,324.

* Earlier on the card, Sea the Joy posted a front-running victory in her turf debut, the $60,000 Crank It Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Sea the Joy ($9.60) easily overcame the outside post in the nine-horse field with an alert start.

"She jumped right out of the gate and showed her heels to them," said jockey Joe Bravo.

Sea the Joy, trained by Steve Asmussen, beat Changeisgonnacome by a length with Ticket to Seattle third. The race, at about 5 1/2 furlongs, was timed in 1:02.39.