06/30/2002 11:00PM

At last, Suances's time has come

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Suances came to the United States in 2000 after winning the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat in France. It's taken more than two years, most of which was spent recuperating from injury, but Suances will finally get the opportunity to win his first U.S. Grade 1 on Saturday in the $500,000 United Nations Handicap on the turf at Monmouth.

The British-bred Suances started his career as a 2-year-old in obscurity in Spain with trainer Mauricio Delcher, winning four out of five races at San Sebastian Racetrack. When he arrived in France to tackle group competition for the first time, the Spain-based enigma was overlooked at 10-1. Yet Suances won the Group 3 Prix de Guiche at Longchamp easily, and in his next start, in June 2000, he won the Prix Jean Prat for 3-year-olds at Chantilly by six lengths over Bach.

A week before that win, Suances was purchased by Jed and Roberta Cohen of Red Baron's Barn, whose horses are trained in the U.S. by Southern California-based Darrell Vienna. Vienna said bloodstock agent Hubert Guy recommended the horse to the Cohens, who frequently buy European horses and bring them to the United States. Vienna said it was unusual that a successful horse like Suances was for sale, and the Cohens snapped him up and he raced in their silks in the Prix Jean Prat victory.

When Suances arrived at Vienna's barn in 2000, he was targeted for a start in the American Derby at Arlington Park. Suances shipped from California to Arlington, but an accident the morning of the race would prevent him from running for 22 months.

After schooling in the paddock the morning of the race, Suances returned to the receiving barn. In the barn, he kicked through a sliding panel, made of corrugated metal, on the barn door. When he removed his right leg from the hole he had made, he severed the tendon below his right hind ankle.

"It was very slow to heal because the injury was in a location that was always in motion," Vienna said. "He couldn't be immobilized. We couldn't have gone any quicker with his recovery."

Nearly two years later, Suances made his belated U.S. debut in the Grade 2 Explosive Bid Handicap at the Fair Grounds March 24. He broke from post 12 in a 14-horse field, was hung wide, and tired to finish 10th. He was beaten only five lengths by winner Sarafan and runner-up Beat Hollow.

Since that race, Suances turned the tables on Sarafan by winning the Grade 2 San Francisco Breeders' Cup at Bay Meadows April 27, and then easily captured the Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star on June 15. He has finally been able to show the talent that convinced his connections to purchase him more than two years ago.

Suances has never raced farther than 10 furlongs, and he will have to navigate an extra furlong in the United Nations. His last two races were at one mile and 1 1/8 miles. Vienna said he is optimistic distance will not be a problem.

"He's won at a mile and a quarter in Europe over more trying ground," Vienna said, "and based on the way he trains, I don't think it should be a problem. I have to work him with very good horses, some pretty decent sprinters, and he always holds his own without much trouble. He doesn't tire much and finishes up his workouts very strongly."

Vienna said Suances was to fly out of California either Monday night or Tuesday morning, along with stablemate Janet, who will run in the New York Handicap at Belmont.

Coa's victory count: Even dozen

In the winner's circle Saturday after upsetting Summer Colony and Spain to win the Grade 2, $300,000 Molly Pitcher aboard 8-1 Atelier, jockey Eibar Coa said he didn't know if this week was the best of his career. After the last race Sunday, Coa had no doubt that it was.

Coa was the leading jockey here last year in his first riding stint at Monmouth, and he is well on the way to his second riding title. Coa began and ended the week with big days. On Wednesday, Coa won five races. He won one each on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

On Sunday, Coa captured both stakes - the $50,000 Dearly Precious Stakes aboard Wish It Were and the $50,000 Skip Away Stakes on Cat's at Home - to sweep the weekend stakes. He added the early double Sunday for a total of four on the day and 12 on the week, putting him in first place in the standings with 37 wins through Sunday, nine ahead of second place Jose Ferrer.

"Every horse I've been on has been running good for me," Coa said Sunday. "I started a little slowly this meet because my main customers started slowly. But all my better horses have been running now and the trainers I ride for have gotten hot."

Frankel tries for another U.N.

The field for the United Nations Handicap Saturday may be the strongest since the race was moved to Monmouth from Atlantic City Race Course in 1999.

Denon, trained by Bobby Frankel, and Suances head the West Coast invaders. Garrett Gomez will ride Denon, who was assigned 118 pounds. Denon has two Grade 1 victories in four races in the U.S., including the Charles Whittingham at Hollywood Park in his last start June 15. Frankel won the 2001 United Nations with Senure. Suances (117) will be ridden by David Flores.

Multiple Grade 1 winner With Anticipation (119) will be the highweight with jockey Pat Day. He crossed the wire first in last year's U.N. but was disqualified and placed second.

Blazing Fury, to be ridden by Jose Santos, will carry 114 pounds. Local Grade 3 winners Crash Course (114, jockey Jose Velez) and Key Lory (114, Harry Vega) are the hometown favorites. Also expected are Deputy Strike (111) and Ready to Roll (111). Serial Bride (110) is a possibility.

The race will be televised on CBS.

* Rob's Pegasus heads a field of 10 in the featured eighth race on Wednesday, a two-other-than Jersey-bred allowance for 3-year-olds and up at one mile. Rob's Pegasus has one win this meet for trainer Anthony Ryan, based in New England, and on Wednesday stretches out to a route for the first time. He will be ridden by Jeff Burningham.