06/21/2006 12:00AM

'Marines' has stepped up as a 4-year-old


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Call the Marines, fresh off a victory, heads the $38,000 first-level allowance feature Friday at Monmouth Park.

A 4-year-old gelding, Call the Marines cruised to an eight-length win June 2 over $40,000 claimers, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 80.

, 1 for 6 last year, has shown steady improvement in each of his four starts this season. His Beyers have improved each time out, culminating last time with the first win of his campaign.

"He has just blossomed as a 4-year-old," said trainer John Forbes. "He seems to keep getting better and better with each race. As a 3-year-old, we had high hopes, but he went through a period where, for some reason or another, he wasn't performing."

Call the Marines makes his first start against allowance company since last year.

"It's the logical progression," Forbes said. "He's doing super right now. I don't know if he's good enough to win, but I think he'll run a good race."

Call the Marines faces six rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race, including Mysterious Boy, a very game second on June 2 in his Monmouth debut. The 3-year-old , claimed by trainer Peter Walder at Calder in December, has two wins and a second in three starts for the new barn.

never got a fair shot last time, as his saddle slipped. Go for Gray has enough early speed to be a factor from the rail, while Indy won his maiden last time out in his first start for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

Trainer Stanley Hough has an entry of Santa's Gold and Deputy Indy.

Gold and Roses in Salvator

Trainer Tom Bush said Wednesday that Gold and Roses will start at Monmouth on Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Salvator Mile.

The 4-year-old Gold and Roses has earned more than $500,000, primarily in New York-bred stakes.

The Salvator is shaping up as a strong race, headlined by Flower Alley, last year's Travers winner, who has not run since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

The two-turn Salvator could set up nicely for Gold and Roses. He has good early speed, always an asset at Monmouth, along with a history of running well in two-turn routes over Aqueduct's inner track.