08/01/2006 11:00PM

Little Cliff likely for Haskell

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Bill Denver / EQUI-PHOTOS
Icy Atlantic edges Old Forester to win the Battlefield Stakes at the Meadowlands in June. He runs next in Saturday's Oceanport.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - The $1 million Haskell Invitational field could increase to eight with the addition of Little Cliff.

Monmouth race secretary Mike Dempsey said Little Cliff was "a good possibility" for the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds on Sunday.

Little Cliff entered the Haskell picture Wednesday, a day before entries were to be drawn.

Trained by Nick Zito, Little Cliff made his last two starts at Delaware Park, winning a second-level allowance race and running third behind Awfully Smart, a Haskell runner, in the Grade 3 Leonard Richards Stakes on July 16.

Little Cliff, 3 for 11 lifetime, is looking for his first stakes victory.

If entered, Little Cliff would join a Haskell lineup that includes Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes runner-up Bluegrass Cat; Dwyer winner Strong Contender; Praying for Cash, who won the Long Branch Stakes, Monmouth's Haskell prep; Ohio Derby winner Deputy Glitters; Flashy Bull; and Electrify.

Icy Atlantic set to bounce back

The Haskell card has seven other stakes, including two Grade 3, $150,000 grass races: the Oceanport at 1 1/16 miles and the Matchmaker for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.

A solid field is shaping up for the Oceanport, including Icy Atlantic, winner of the Battlefield Stakes at the Meadowlands on June 12 for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Icy Atlantic followed that with a fourth-place finish under Garrett Gomez in the Caesar Rodney Stakes at Delaware Park.

"All of us, including Todd, were surprised he ran like that at Delaware," said assistant Anthony Sciametta. "The rider might have taken him back a little too much. We really didn't like the way the race unfolded with a real slow pace."

Icy Atlantic, based at Monmouth, worked four furlongs in 49.80 seconds on Monday. John Velazquez, who will ride Bluegrass Cat in the Haskell, will ride Icy Atlantic.

Hotstufanthensome, runner-up in last year's Oceanport, returns. He lost by a half-length last out July 15 in Monmouth's Elkwood Stakes.

Stakes coordinator Mike Melendez has Be My Buddy, Bestowed, Dynareign, Gigawatt, Miracle Man, Pulpit Talk, and Touched by Madness as likely for the Oceanport.

Possible Matchmaker runners, according to Melendez, are Frambroise, Golden Locket, Jacqui's Promise, Marchonin, Prop Me Up, and Tisket a Tasket.

In the other stakes, trainer Scott Volk has been pointing Extra Bend to the $100,000 Jersey Derby for 3-year-olds on the turf since the start of the meet. Extra Bend lost Monmouth's Lamplighter Stakes on July 9 by a neck.

The $100,000 Teddy Drone at six furlongs could be a highly competitive race with a field expected to include High Blitz, a two-time stakes winner this meet; Grade 1 winner Valid Video, who has not run since January; and local favorite Joey P.

Two $100,000 stakes for fillies and mares - the Lady's Secret at 1 1/16 miles and the Regret at six furlongs - and the $65,000 Lincroft Handicap for New Jersey-breds complete the stakes lineup.

Wednesday's cancellation aids Friday

The cancellation of Monmouth's Wednesday program because of the extreme heat helped the race office fill the Friday card.

Six of the races set for Wednesday were brought back Friday, including the second-level $40,000 allowance feature at a mile and 70 yards.

Hurricane Shockey was an easy winner here on June 29, registering a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 93 in a 6 1/4-length victory over $22,000 claimers. It was Hurricane Shockey's first start since November at the Meadowlands.

Monmouth added a race Friday, running 10 instead of the customary nine.