06/20/2007 11:00PM

Lawyer Ron tests course in Salvator

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Lawyer Ron (left) turns for home behind winner Corinthian (right) in the Met Mile. Lawyer Run will be favored in Saturday's Salvator Mile.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - With Monmouth Park hosting the Breeders' Cup for the first time on Oct. 26-27 this year, trainers will be using the track's stakes program to gauge how their horses handle the facility's grass and dirt surfaces.

Lawyer Ron is the first high-profile runner to make a pre-Breeders' Cup appearance on the Jersey Shore. The 4-year-old will be the odds-on favorite Saturday against four rivals in the Gradeo3, $150,000 Salvator Mile.

Trainer Todd Pletcher zeroed in on the Salvator with the long-range goal of preparing Lawyer Ron for the first running of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

"He might be a horse that fits the new Breeders' Cup race at one mile, 70 yards," Pletcher said. "This might clarify that for us. This will be as close as you can get."

The Breeders' Cup race was extended 70 yards to accommodate the possibility of a full field of 14. At a mile, outside horses would be at a disadvantage because Monmouth's first turn comes up very quickly.

"With a million dollars, we are hoping for a full field," Monmouth racing secretary Mike Dempsey said. "It will be a fairer run-up. It's not an issue for the Salvator Mile because of the smaller fields where no one has a distinct advantage."

The Dirt Mile is one of three new Breeders' Cup races on Friday, Oct 26, as the season-ending championships expand to a two-day event for the first time. The other new $1 million Breeders' Cup stakes are the Juvenile Turf at one mile and the Filly and Mare Sprint at six furlongs.

It's a long road from here to the Breeders' Cup, but Pletcher envisions Lawyer Ron making the journey.

The Arkansas Derby winner last year, he joined the Pletcher stable last fall following a second-place finish in the Super Derby. He ran once more that season, a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

Lawyer Ron is off to an encouraging start in 2007 with 2 wins in 3 starts, including a victory in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. He most recently finished third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Memorial Day at Belmont Park.

"The spacing of this race is decent from the Met Mile," Pletcher said. "The horse is doing well and he needs to run. This puts him in position where he could come back and run in the Iselin or the Whitney."

The Grade 3, $300,000 Iselin Breeders' Cup Stakes at 1 1/8 miles takes place at Monmouth Aug. 18. The Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap, also at 1 1/8 miles, is July 28 at Saratoga.

On class, Lawyer Ron appears to have the Salvator field at his mercy. The winner of 10 races and $1.8 million faces four rivals, and none has won a graded stakes.

The others are Indy Wind, who won Monmouth's Frisk Me Now Stakes last time out; Gottcha Gold, who set the pace before settling for second in the Frisk Me Now; Take the Bluff, who was fourth last time out in his stakes debut in the Grade 3 W.D. Schaefer Handicap at Pimlico; and Chucker.

* Joey P., one of the top New Jersey-bred sprinters, makes his turf debut Saturday in the $60,000 Sneakbox Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs.

* Coy Coyote, winner last time out of the Grade 3 Mazarine Breeders' Cup Stakes at Woodbine in September, makes her first start Saturday for trainer Michael Dickinson in the $60,000 Without Feathers Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.