05/29/2008 11:00PM

Mr. Silver and Not Acclaim meet again


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Mr. Silver and Not Acclaim move their rivalry north to Monmouth Park for the $60,000 Wolf Hill Stakes Sunday.

The two turf sprinters clashed in two allowance races at Gulfstream Park, battling to a draw.

Not Acclaim scored a pacesetting win on March 13, with Mr. Silver getting third after avoiding traffic on the backstretch. In the rematch, Mr. Silver rallied to beat Not Acclaim by a half-length on April 18.

Mr. Silver ran second in last year's Wolf Hill to Smart Enough. Mr. Silver, trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., had a case of second-itis throughout last year. He was winless in eight races, but finished second four times, all in stakes.

In addition to the Wolf Hill, the gray 5-year-old was the runner-up in the Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs, Monmouth's Sneakbox, and the Troy at Saratoga.

"He came out of those races at Gulfstream in excellent shape," Plesa said. "Hopefully, we can turn some of those seconds last year into wins. We might have been a little unlucky in some of them, but that's the game."

Also in the race is Hesa Big Star, who won a turf sprint stakes in his season debut, the Dream Big at Atlantic City Race Course on May 2. Most recently, Hesa Big Star pressed the pace before finishing fifth in the Turf Sprint on the Preakness Day undercard at Pimlico.

Long and short of cutting the grass

The Monmouth turf course has been a lively topic of conversation among trainers and jockeys who would like to see the grass grown longer than the current 4 1/2-inch mowing height.

The concern is that horses are not getting enough traction.

"It's too short," said jockey Herb McCauley. "I don't think there is a jockey or a trainer who would disagree if they got on a horse and went around there. It needs another inch and a half, at least."

Trainer Tim Hills feels the course is too short on the inside while it grows lushly on the outside.

"For some reason, it never recovered from the Breeders' Cup beating it up," Hills said. "It never really filled in, especially after the rainy spring we had."

Bob Kulina, Monmouth's vice president and general manager, defending the mowing procedures, pointed out that track is following the recommendations of James Murphy of Cook College at Rutgers University, one of the nation's leading grass specialists.

"We consulted with our experts and this is what they recommend," Kulina said. "When you have wet weather like this time of year, longer grass promotes disease and root rot. By cutting it shorter, all the energy of the plant goes into the root system, not the blade.

"We get a lot of races out of our course and we want to continue to do that."

Lezcano to serve eight days

Jockey Jose Lezcano, off to a blazing start at Monmouth, will miss eight days, serving a suspension for an infraction from last year.

The meet's leading rider, Lezcano will be suspended from Wednesday through June 13. He got five days for his ride on Red Birkin here last June 30. The New Jersey Racing Commission tacked on three additional days after Lezcano withdrew an appeal.

* Trainer Collin Maragh, the father of jockey Rajiv Maragh, was suspended 60 days and fined $1,000 after Angel Veloz, winner of the third race on May 9, tested positive for the local anesthetic lidocaine. The suspension starts June 10.