08/25/2005 12:00AM

Melody of Colors to give dirt another shot


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The $55,000 Incredible Revenge Stakes for fillies and mares on Saturday seemed in jeopardy when Monmouth Park announced the end of five-furlong turf races for the balance of the meet.

Elimination of the grass sprints was one of the measures instituted to nurse the battered turf course through two more weekends before the scheduled post-Labor Day renovation that will lay down a new course in preparation for the 2007 Breeders' Cup.

But even with the shift of the Incredible Revenge to the main track, the race attracted 10 runners, including Melody of Colors.

Trainer Tim Hills wanted to keep Melody of Colors on the grass but could not find an alternative spot for the 6-year-old mare.

"There are no sprint stakes out of town, anywhere," Hills said. "She ran a bad one at Gulfstream last year on dirt, so we decided to leave her on the turf. Now, there are no other options."

That poor effort was a 22-length defeat on Feb. 11, 2004. She has made 14 straight grass starts since then.

Melody of Colors has developed into a solid turf sprinter who missed by only a neck in a game performance in Monmouth's Klassy Briefcase Stakes on July 30.

This will be her third straight appearance in the Incredible Revenge, with the two prior efforts coming on turf. She ran fourth in 2003 at Monmouth and was second, missing by only a neck, when the race was held at The Meadowlands Racetrack last fall.

Kool Humor back in New Jersey for Wheeler

Kool Humor returns to Monmouth for the first time since the 2003 Haskell Invitational for Saturday's $60,000 Bill Wheeler Handicap for New Jersey-breds.

Although bred in the Garden State, Kool Humor has spent most of his career in Texas. The 5-year-old gelding, who was claimed in his last two starts at Lone Star Park, is now trained by Scott Lake.

This will be his third Monmouth appearance. Kool Humor ran second in his career debut in the summer of 2002. In his other local start he finished 17 lengths behind Peace Rules in the Haskell.

Kool Humor lands in a tough spot against hard-knocking statebred runners. The field includes War's Prospect, a dual stakes winner at this meet; Trueamericanspirit, who captured the Lincroft Handicap last time out; and Who's the Cowboy, a 3-year-old riding a three-race winning streak that includes a Rumson Stakes victory against open company.

Fourteen enter for eight spots in Omnibus

The $60,000 Omnibus Stakes for fillies and mares offers one of the few remaining turf opportunities this meet. Not surprisingly, the race drew more horses than are allowed to run.

Turf fields are now limited to eight, and the Omnibus attracted 14, including Smart N Classy, the New Jersey-bred mare who won the Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap earlier this meet.

Emerald Earrings ran third in her last two Monmouth outings: the Grade 3 Taylor Made Matchmaker Stakes and the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Diavla, fresh from a near miss in the Lady's Secret Stakes on the main track on the Haskell Day undercard, tries grass for the fourth time in her career Saturday.

"We were interested in running on the dirt but decided to enter to take a look at the field," said trainer Kelly Breen.

Matchmaker runner-up Cat Alert, Krasnaya, My Limit, Habiboo, and Freeroll complete the field.

Zoffinger gets on board for Iselin

The field continues to take shape for Sunday's Grade 3, $250,000 Philip H. Iselin Handicap at 1 1/8 miles.

Zoffinger was added to the list of expected starters on Thursday. He was third in last year's Iselin, finishing a distant 32 lengths behind Ghostzapper.

"We were hoping for third last year and he got it, just barely," said Pat McBurney, the assistant trainer for the John Forbes Stable.

Zoffinger is a grinding closer who tends to drop far off the pace. He was second in a Monmouth allowance race last time out.

"He's acting really good and feeling great right now," McBurney said of the 5-year-old Zoffinger, who is still eligible for second-level allowance conditions. "He's never really turned the corner to get to be a really good horse."

The top horses in the field should include Cherokee's Boy, a winner of three straight stakes, including Monmouth's Grade 3 Salvator Mile; Purge, who last year captured the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont and Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga; and Presidentialaffair, last year's Iselin runner-up.

Stakes coordinator Mike Melendez also expects Billy Allen and Cointreau, with Cuba considered a possibility.