10/10/2001 11:00PM

Native Heir tries turf in Scudder


It isn't for adventure that high-win-percentage trainer Anthony Dutrow is shipping Native Heir to The Meadowlands from his Maryland base for Saturday's $50,000 Matt Scudder Stakes.

Native Heir has six wins in 10 career starts, plus two seconds and two thirds, for the top earnings in the field of 12 entered in the Scudder, for 3-year-olds. But this will be Native Heir's turf debut, and his dam, Mary Had a Lot, was 0 for 7 lifetime on the grass.

"I've breezed him on the turf in the morning, and he acted like he'll like it," said Dutrow, who will be starting his first runner at The Meadowlands in 2001, but comes in winning races this year at a 31 percent clip overall.

"To be honest, I don't think the surface will matter much to him," Dutrow said. "If it rains and it comes off the turf, he'll do just as well."

Native Heir worked a bullet 47 seconds at four furlongs on Tuesday at Laurel for this race. He had the lead by the first call in five of his 10 starts, but figures to face early pressure Saturday, especially from two rivals, Rock and River Rush.

Trained by Alan Goldberg, another high-percentage trainer (29 percent), Rock has won four of six career starts, including four of five at the Scudder's five-furlong distance, all on the grass. But his best race, an impressive win in the Sid Baer at Delaware on Aug. 26, came against a short field of four foes.

River Rush took early leads in each of his last five races. He led by eight lengths after four furlongs in his last race, at 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga on Aug. 25. He stopped badly and finished 11th in a field of 12.

Like Rock, River Rush appears to have enough speed to beat Native Heir to the rail by the turn if jockey Robert Colton so chooses. Not that Dutrow is worried that anyone's speed can blunt Native Heir's chances.

"He can run on the lead or rate off of it," Dutrow said. "We'll see how the race sets up and play it from there."

Regular jockey Mario Pino will travel up from Maryland to ride Native Heir.