07/27/2009 12:00AM

Liquid Amber returns to favorite course


OCEANPORT, N.J. - At first glance, Liquid Amber appears to be at a class disadvantage in a third-level optional $70,000 claimer on the turf Wednesday at Monmouth Park.

One might call it an ambitious placement for a horse that ran third most recently at Belmont Park in a starter handicap for $16,000 claimers.

If you look closer, this spot becomes a solid fit.

Trainer Bruce Alexander attributes the Belmont loss to two factors: drawing post 9 in a 10-horse field and the 122-pound weight assignment.

"That said, he didn't run as well at Belmont as he does at Monmouth," Alexander said. "Otherwise, he would have been in the winner's circle."

Liquid Amber is highly effective on the Monmouth course, going 6-1-1 in 11 starts.

"He loves the turf, and he loves the Monmouth turf course exceptionally well," Alexander said.

He already has a win here, taking a second-level allowance on June 17.

The 5-year-old Liquid Amber is also reuniting with Daniel Centeno, his favorite jockey. They have won three of the last four when they teamed up.

Liquid Amber again drew an outside post. This time, there are only seven runners going 1 1/16 miles.

"This is a good spot," Alexander said. "If we drew the 10, I would say no. We only have to beat six."

The horse to beat is Tastefully Smart from the rail. He beat a similar field last time out here on July 11.

Like Liquid Amber, Tastefully Smart usually runs solidly on this course, never finishing out of the money in seven tries.

After a winter campaign at Gulfstream Park and a three-month freshening, Tastefully Smart bounced back nicely for trainer and co-owner Eddie Broome.

His first outing at the meet was an excellent third behind multiple stakes winner Hotstufanthensome.

Then came the victory in which Channing Hill, who has the return call, gave Tastefully Smart his preferred stalking trip.

Every horse in the race is in for the $70,000 tag with the exception of Pictural, part of an entry with Adagio for trainer Rick Dutrow. Joe Bravo was named to ride both.

Trainer Tim Hills also entered two. They will go as separate betting interests and Hills has lined up the meet's two top riders: Elvis Trujillo, the leader, has I'm Only Laughing, while Eddie Castro guides Gimme Credit.