06/11/2002 11:00PM

Key Lory skips Oceanport on way to U.N.

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Key Lory, winner of the Grade 3 Red Bank Handicap in his last start and undefeated in four turf races, will skip Saturday's Grade 3 Oceanport at Monmouth Park and train right up to the Grade 1 United Nations on July 6, trainer Dennis Manning reported Wednesday.

would have been a heavy favorite to win the Oceanport for the second straight year, but Manning said he believed three races separated by only three weeks each would be too much to ask of the 8-year-old horse. Key Lory fired what clockers called a super workout Wednesday, recording seven furlongs on the turf in 1:27.40 around the dogs. Jockey Chuck Lopez, who rode Key Lory in his 2001 Oceanport victory, was aboard for the workout.

"He'll train right up to the United Nations," Manning said after Key Lory's workout. "I'll keep my fingers crossed that everything goes well up to the race."

Manning, who trains Key Lory for Mac Fehsenfeld, said he set a game plan for Key Lory last winter that focused his campaign with the United Nations as the main goal. After Key Lory's impressive wire-to-wire win in the Red Bank on May 25, Manning said he would start next in the Oceanport. But as the race drew nearer, Manning said a combination of the hot weather and proximity to the United Nations caused him to take a pass.

"There was a lot of pressure to run him in the Oceanport," Manning said. "But my experience tells me not to."

Manning said Key Lory isn't usually an exceptional workhorse, which made his quick workout Wednesday all the more impressive. Manning said Key Lory has long endurance gallops often and will be training on the turf each Wednesday up to the United Nations, although he may not necessarily breeze each time.

Key Lory has four stakes wins on the turf and the United Nations will be his opportunity to jump up to a Grade 1 for the first time. With the way Key Lory has run on the turf, Manning is looking forward to Key Lory's opportunity to fulfill the game plan set out for him months ago.

"I'm waiting for the big boys to come to town on July 6," he said.

With Key Lory out, Manning said he would run Ready to Roll in the Oceanport. Ready to Roll breezed four furlongs on the turf Wednesday in 49.40 seconds with jockey Carlos Cruz aboard.

Baby maiden race wide open

The first 2-year-old maiden race for colts will be the fifth race on a nine-race card Friday. The field lacks a clear standout, but second-time starter Smokin Mike and first-time starter Max's Cat will likely vie for betting favoritism.

Trainer Jeff Bonde won the first juvenile fillies race this meet with Mike's Wildcat and he sends out Smokin Mike. Smokin Mike, a California-bred son of Smokester, ran second in his first start at Bay Meadows on May 27. He was checked at the start, made the lead turning for home, but was outfinished to be second by two lengths. Smokin Mike earned a 61 Beyer Speed Figure in the race. Owned by Dennis Narlinger of JMJ Racing Stables, Smokin Mike had a four-furlong workout in 49.40 seconds here June 9.

Ben Perkins Jr. had an amazing meet with 2-year-olds last summer, and he sends out his first juvenile starter of the meet in the Raymond Dweck-owned Max's Cat. Max's Cat, a $165,000 Ocala August yearling purchase, has lit up the work tab preparing for his first start. Max's Cat should be quick out of the gate based on his rapid gate workouts in the past month.

Atlantic Ave, trained by Ronny Werner, was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in a maiden special weight at Keeneland on April 17. He was slow out of the gate and was never in contention, finishing seventh. He has fired a bullet-workout at Keeneland and turned in solid workouts at Monmouth since the race and seems primed for a top-notch effort.

Cool N Collective on comeback trail

Cool N Collective, second in the Grade 2 Pegasus at The Meadowlands in 2000, made his first start in more than a year, and his debut for trainer Dennis Manning, on June 8 at Delaware Park. His 2002 debut was a successful one, capturing a three-other-than allowance at a mile.

Cool N Collective started his career in Canada for trainer Reade Baker before going to the barn of Steve Asmussen. Asmussen campaigned him in allowance races in the Midwest, with his last race coming on June 2, 2001, at Churchill Downs, before being laid up for over a year. Manning received the horse from owner Earle Mack after that, and Cool N Collective was laid up with Manning in Florida last winter.

Manning said he is looking at the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on July 27 as a possible long-range goal for 5-year-old Cool N Collective.

- Mike's Wildcat, who won her maiden convincingly on May 30 in the first juvenile race of the meet, worked out for the first time since that victory on Wednesday. With assistant trainer Sal Muniz in the saddle, she breezed four furlongs in a brisk 48.80. Muniz said Mike's Wildcat would make her next start in a one-other-than allowance for 2-year-old fillies on June 27.