07/15/2004 11:00PM

Miss Matched creates pleasant problems

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Bill Perry faces a pair of tough questions in the aftermath of the smashing debut by Miss Matched on Thursday afternoon at Monmouth Park.

Where should he next run Miss Matched, a 2-year-old daughter of Formal Gold, following her 12 1/2-length romp? And should he entertain the offers from the bloodstock agents who keep his cell phone chiming?

Neither question has an easy answer.

As to the next start, Perry would love to run back at Monmouth, but there are few options available. The $75,000 Sorority on Sept. 4, Monmouth's top 2-year-old filly stakes, is too far distant and not nearly lucrative enough.

Miss Matched could be headed north to Saratoga where 2-year-old stakes options are far more lucrative.

That assumes Perry, who co-owns the homebred filly with John Gallo, still has her.

"We're going to think about that a little bit," said Perry. "I hate that, because I love horse racing and I love to have nice horses under the shed. That said, the money is important and I've got to make a living. I'd love to run her but if someone comes along and offers a lot of money, it would be hard to turn down."

The win was especially rewarding, considering that Perry campaigned Formal Gold to numerous stakes wins, including the 1997 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth, where he beat Skip Away.

"She exceeded expectations a little bit," said Perry of Miss Matched's performance. "I liked her. She trained well for me. I thought she had some ability."

Miss Matched had four workouts leading to the race. Her first breeze was the fastest, a four-furlong bullet work in 48 seconds on May 31.

She worked three more times after that, all moderate five-furlongs drills.

"I just didn't want her jumping out of her skin," said Perry. "We worked her but kept a hold of her. That seemed to work all right."

Miss Matched was ready to run the five-furlong race in 57.97 seconds with Stewart Elliott aboard.

"I thought she was pretty impressive," said Perry.

Change of tactics works for Lavender Lass

Lavender Lass gets another chance to utilize her newly discovered closing talents Sunday in the $65,000 Red Cross Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

Trainer John Mazza was prepared to run up the white surrender flag when Lavender Lass fell 10 lengths off the pace in a Monmouth allowance race on June 20.

The 4-year-old Lavender Lass, who normally assumes a stalking position, was well off the pace as Desireable Moment scorched the half-mile in 43.54 seconds.

Just when all seemed lost, Lavender Lass started to kick in.

"Even at the eighth pole, I didn't think she had a shot," said Mazza. "She just flew. Even after the wire, Eddie King had a hard time pulling her up."

Lavender Lass got up by a half-length.

"She ran a good race and she's healthy and at the top of her game right now."

As for tactics in the Red Cross, Mazza said Lavender Lass "will try to do the same thing. Hopefully there will be some speed in there so we can come on."

Lavender Lass will face Cupid Season, Whoop's Ah Daisy, Elegant Designer, Distinctive Kitten, and Final Round in the six-furlong race.

Trueamericanspirit returns for Dowd

Trueamericanspirit looks for his third straight stakes victory Sunday in the $60,000 Bernie Dowd Handicap at six furlongs for New Jersey-breds.

Trueamericanspirit has emerged as the dominant force in statebred stakes at the meet with wins in the John J. Reilly and Lincroft handicaps.

"He's doing awfully well," said trainer Tim Hills. "He's very happy. He's kind of our ATM machine."

Hills is rooting for a dry track following Thursday's workout in the mud. Trueamericanspirit went three furlongs in 39.60 seconds.

"I breezed him in the mud and he didn't go good," said Hills. "I just hope it isn't muddy."

The 4-year-old Trueamericanspirit has run once on an off track, finishing fourth in a claiming race at Aqueduct in April 2003.

Trueamericanspirit will have to catch the always speedy Something Smith, who tries to end a string of three straight seconds.

Something Smith has been working very aggressively.

"He always works up a storm," said trainer Kevin Sleeter.

Beknown to Me, Dixie Two Thousand, Sheryar Special, and Moorish Prince complete the field.