08/31/2001 11:00PM

Nat's Big Party eyes triple


Nat's Big Party, a 7-year-old gelding who has risen to the top of the Oklahoma region's turf division, goes for his third consecutive stakes win Monday in the $150,0000 Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. The 1 3/8-mile turf race has drawn a field of six.

Nat's Big Party, who was beaten for a claiming price of $50,000 last winter at Fair Grounds, comes into the DeBartolo off two stakes victories. In his most recent start he defeated multiple stakes winner Gold Nugget by three-quarters of a length in the $50,000 Retama Turf Cup on Aug. 11. Before that he captured the $100,000 Independence Breeders' Cup Handicap at Louisiana Downs by a neck over multiple stakes winner Candid Glen.

Both of those races were at 1 1/16 miles, however, and on Monday Nat's Big Party must get 1 3/8 miles. But trainer Steve Asmussen believes he should not have a problem getting the extra distance. "He was third in the [Grade 2] Knickerbocker at a mile and a quarter a few years ago. I looked that up, and it was one of his better races," said Asmussen, who trains Nat's Big Party for the nation's leading owner, Richard Englander.

Asmussen added he believes Nat's Big Party can fire another winning race Monday. "I'm not expecting him to back up," said the trainer. Donnie Meche will ride.

Gerard Melancon will ride Rebridled for trainer John Fister, who hopes the third time is the charm in the DeBartolo. "He ran third in this race last year, and second the year before. It might be his turn this time," said Fister.

Special post for the first race Monday is 2:30 p.m.