06/09/2003 11:00PM

Mighty Oak starts year

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Mighty Oak, a promising 3-year-old, heads the $45,500 allowance feature for New Jersey-breds Thursday at Monmouth Park.

Mighty Oak, making only his fourth start, will have the services of Joe Bravo, the meet's leading rider.

Mighty Oak debuted last fall at The Meadowlands, where he finished sixth in the slop at six furlongs. Trainer Chuck Spina opted for more distance in the next two outings, and the improvement was dramatic. Mighty Oak set the pace going 1 1/16 miles and lost by only a neck. He closed out the campaign with an 11-length maiden romp at one mile.

Mighty Oak shows a string of strong and steady workouts at Philadelphia Park and Monmouth for his first start of the year. The major negative could be distance, as this race is only six furlongs.

The chief competition in the nonwinners-of-one allowance could come from Bulletthebluesky, third in the slop in his season debut; Mr Jetset, an in-the-money finisher in his last three starts, all in open claiming company at Philadelphia Park; and Down the Shore, winless in six tries at Monmouth but who has hit the board five times.

Del Mar Show tops Oceanport weights

Del Mar Show was assigned top weight of 122 pounds for Saturday's feature, the Grade 3, $100,000 Oceanport Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

A 6-year-old son of Theatrical, Del Mar Show has never lost at the distance in six career tries. He is trained by Bill Mott, who took Sunday's Monmouth Beach Stakes with Tonight's Wager.

Del Mar Show has won 1 of 2 starts this year, an allowance race at Keeneland. He ran fourth most recently in the Grade 2 Citgo Dixie Stakes over a soft course at Pimlico.

Balto Star and Burning Roma follow on the Oceanport scale at 119 pounds.

The Oceanport would be a return to turf for Balto Star, who finished last in the slop in the Pimlico Special.

Burning Roma won his only grass attempt, the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in February.

One of his finest moments came last fall on the main track in the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup at The Meadowlands. Burning Roma gutted out a front-running score over Volponi, who went on to a memorable upset in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"He's done just about everything," said Burning Roma's trainer, Heather Giglio. "We want him to win a graded race on the grass. He is scheduled to go to stud at the end of this season and that would look great on his resume."