09/06/2007 12:00AM

McCauley returns to saddle


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - A pair of stakes races and the comeback of jockey Herb McCauley highlight the 10-race Saturday night card at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

McCauley, riding for the first time in nine years, has one mount, Calabria Bella, in the ninth race. McCauley, 50, has been sidelined since suffering a severely broken leg in a spill at Monmouth Park in 1998. The winner of 3,049 races, he admitted to a "few goose bumps" when he checked the Saturday Meadowlands entries on a computer and saw his name listed.

"It's like somebody who went into a coma nine years ago and, suddenly, they're waking up and returning to the world that they left," McCauley said.

He returns in a $47,500 second-level allowance race for New Jersey-breds going six furlongs.

The two $60,000 stakes - the Navajo Princess for fillies and mares on the turf and the Bergen County for 3-year-old sprinters - occupy the two races before the McCauley comeback.

The competition Saturday will be solid but not overwhelming for Different Tune in the one-mile Navajo Princess. The race drew a field of seven, with Moonlight Aria and Lucky Revival entered for the main track only.

A Different Tune raced well over the summer in similar stakes at Monmouth, finishing second in the Politely and third in the Lighthouse.

Most recently, A Different Tune headed to Saratoga for the De La Rose Stakes where she was bottled up in stretch traffic and finished ninth.

"It was probably a mistake, but there was really nowhere else to go," trainer Jane Cibelli said of the Saratoga excursion.

The Irish-bred Naissance Royale is the likely favorite in the Navajo Princess, her first race since March. She owns a pair of graded stakes victories: the Grade 2 Nassau at Woodbine in 2006 and the Grade 3 Suwannee River at Gulfstream Park in February.

Forefathers also hits the comeback trail in the Bergen County. The colt makes his debut for trainer Bill Mott and first start since being eased in the stretch run of the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on March 24.