08/04/2003 11:00PM

Manning juveniles ready for next step


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Dennis Manning and owner Mac Fehsenfeld plan to take two shots at a Sapling Stakes repeat.

They won Monmouth Park's premier 2-year-old stakes race last year with Valid Video, and have Limit Free and Stringtown Wonder on target for Saturday's renewal of the Grade 3, $100,000 race.

"They are both decent horses and they are both coming off wins." Manning said. "I think Limit Free is an exceptionally nice horse."

Limit Free has made one start, rallying impressively over a muddy track to win by two lengths.

"What impressed me about that first start was the way he finished the race," Manning said. "He swooped down on them. I think he'll run really well in there."

Stringtown Wonder needed four starts to win his maiden. He has never finished off the board.

"To me, the race is an a-other-than allowance race," Manning said. "They are young and inexperienced. I got two horses who are fresh and healthy and ready and I'm going to take my shot."

Trainers Todd Pletcher and D. Wayne Lukas also look poised to take a shot. Pletcher nominated five juveniles - Chapel Royal, Deputy Storm, Heckle, Limehouse, and Tough as Neatie.

Lukas, who has won the Sapling eight times since 1987, nominated four juveniles - Bustin' Out, Desert Patrol, Hasslefree, and Heroic Moment.

Sparkling Blue's speed an asset

Monmouth's featured race Thursday brings together eight fast fillies and mares for a $39,000 allowance purse run at six furlongs.

Sparkling Blue, unbeaten in two starts this year, both at Belmont Park, faces a more experienced field here. The 3-year-old filly, who makes her fourth start here, won a maiden claimer in early July and followed with a strong allowance win.

The two wins coincide with the addition of Lasix. She has turned into a dominant speed horse, always an asset at Monmouth.

She did run one time at Monmouth last summer, finishing fourth after making a mild bid on the turn in the five-furlong race.

To the Crowd has run three sharp allowance races at Delaware Park, posting a win and two seconds. Trainer Allen Iwinski claimed the filly for $40,000 at Aqueduct in late October last year.