10/06/2006 11:00PM

Letter Perfect finally healthy


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Letter Perfect looked primed for a fine summer after facing horses in Florida who went on to win turf stakes. Unfortunately, illness cost him the summer campaign.

The 3-year-old colt returns Tuesday afternoon at the Meadowlands Racetrack in a $36,000 first-level allowance race. First post is 1:10 p.m. for the nine-race card.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race drew a field of 10, including an entry of Assert N Advantage and Duke of London from trainer Dennis Manning.

Letter Perfect will be making only his fourth start. He started his career at Gulfstream Park with a fifth in a dirt sprint followed by a second in a shift to turf at 1 1/16 miles. Among the horses he faced in those two races were Union Avenue, Carnera, and Roman Dynasty, who all went on to score stakes victories.

Letter Perfect came north to win his maiden at Atlantic City Race Course in April before illness struck.

"He got sick," said trainer Alan Goldberg. "It took a while to clear up, but he's better now and he's training well. We're hoping for the best."

Letter Perfect shows three workouts at the Colts Neck Stable in preparation for the comeback, including one on the turf. Letter Perfect is a homebred for the Jayeff B Stable. A son of A.P. Indy, he went through the yearling sales ring at Keeneland in September 2004 but was a buy-back at $175,000.

Jose Velez Jr. will be aboard for the first time as Letter Perfect breaks from post 9.

Trainer Michael Dickinson demonstrated again his skill in bringing back horses to win following long layoffs with Vicar's Tune, who returned from a lay-up of year and a day to win his maiden at Delaware Park on Sept. 11.

Rajiv Maragh has the call from post 3.

Aqueduct-based trainer Gary Contessa is off to a fast start at the Meadowlands with a record of 3-2-0 from his first 8 starters. He sends out late-running Taken Not Given, who rallied from 15 lengths off the pace to miss by a length on Sept. 29, opening night of the meet.

* Eddie Castro closed out his first season in New Jersey with a three-win performance Friday at the Big M. He was fourth in the jockey standings this summer at Monmouth Park. Castro is headed to Keeneland. From there, he will go to Churchill Downs for the Breeders' Cup, followed by a return to Calder, where he is a regular.