06/27/2004 11:00PM

Meteor Storm marathon lover


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Meteor Storm, the likely favorite for the Grade 1, $750,000 United Nations on the turf Saturday, was scheduled to arrive at Monmouth Park on Tuesday.

He will bed down in Kelly Breen's barn for the visit to the Jersey Shore.

Trainer Wally Dollase had planned to breeze Meteor Storm at Hollywood Park before putting him on a flight to New Jersey.

The 5-year-old Meteor Storm has won three consecutive stakes. He started the winning streak at Santa Anita in a pair of Grade 2 events: the San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Rey. He stepped up to capture the Grade 1 Manhattan, on the Belmont Stakes undercard, with a bold stretch run.

Dollase has taken his time with Meteor Storm, who started his career in France and arrived in the U.S. last year. Meteor Storm worked his way through allowance conditions before graduating to stakes.

"He's turned into a super distance horse," said Dollase. "The farther he goes, the better he likes it. We have a lot of confidence in him now."

The U.N., at 1 3/8 miles, should be an ideal fit for a horse who has won at distances ranging from 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 miles during his streak.

The U.N. kicks off the Independence Day weekend at Monmouth. The holiday stakes schedule also includes the Grade 2, $300,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on Sunday.

Monmouth will run two stakes on Monday: the $70,000 Skip Away at a mile and 70 yards, and the $60,000 Little Silver Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Bravo, Biancone team up again

Fresh from their weekend victory with Pomeroy in the Grade 3, $100,000 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes, the team of jockey Joe Bravo and trainer Patrick Biancone combine again Wednesday with California Heart in the featured $41,000 allowance race.

They first hooked up in 1999 when Bravo shifted his tack to Southern California.

"I breezed all the horses for him out there," said Bravo. "I just really love the way the guy trains horses, the way he works them and relaxes them."

California Heart, a 3-year-old son of Elusive Quality, debuted with a victory on June 12 in one of the most fascinating races of the meet.

California Heart opened up a five-length lead with an explosive move on the turn in the six-furlong race. Bravo and the colt were on cruise control until Victory Alleged, another first-timer, made a powerful stretch run to trim California Heart's final margin to a half-length.

"Victory Alleged was incredible," said Bravo. "I only won by a half-length, but it was 8 1/2 lengths to the rest of the field. It wasn't that my horse was stopping. It's just that a very talented horse came on to run second that day."

Victory Alleged, trained by Dennis Manning, will probably seek his maiden win in a longer race.

California Heart, in contrast, will shorten up to five furlongs and shift to the turf for his first race against winners.

He earned an 81 Beyer Figure in the victory, a number that makes him competitive in this field.

"He's very fast," said Bravo. "There are some fast horses in the field. They'd better be tied on because speed kills."

Biancone worked California Heart on the grass at Saratoga in preparation for this race.

He worked four furlongs in 48.60 seconds on June 23.

Scattering Breezes is a key contender with consistent recent Beyers. Scattering Breezes, trained by Tim Hills, earned a 78 in a starter allowance win at Atlantic City Race Course and followed with a 76 while running third in a Monmouth allowance.

Legislative help

The New Jersey Senate and the Assembly approved a pair of bills late last week that will benefit the state's Thoroughbred industry. Both now await expected signatures from Gov. Jim McGreevey.

The first allows the payment of breeder awards to New Jersey-bred horses who win purse money out of state. It applies only in the "off season," when no Thoroughbred racing is conducted in New Jersey. The out-of-state awards could provide an added incentive for owners to consider the New Jersey breeding program, which has dwindled to about 300 foals per season in recent years.

The second measure expands workmen's compensation insurance beyond jockeys to include exercise riders who pay applicable federal and state taxes.