09/26/2006 11:00PM

New meet offers dime superfectas


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Thoroughbred racing returns to the Meadowlands Racetrack Friday night with a 11-race card headlined by two graded turf stakes: the Grade 3, $150,000 Cliff Hanger at 1 1/16 miles and the Grade 2, $75,000 Somerset Medical Center for steeplechasers.

First post will be 7:30 p.m. Eastern for the first of 33 cards through Nov. 11. The track will offer Tuesday matinees at 1:10 p.m. with night cards on Wednesday through Saturday.

The major stakes will go on Fridays, with graded races on the first four Fridays, topped by the Grade 2, $500,000 Meadowlands Breeders' Cup on Oct. 13.

As in recent years, the barn area at the Meadowlands is closed. Most of the runners will van up from Monmouth Park where the race office remains open to take Meadowlands entries.

The major change this meet will be the introduction a nightly 10-cent superfecta on the last race with a bettor-friendly 15 percent takeout. The Meadowlands will be the first track in New Jersey to offer a dime bet.

"We want to give it a shot," said vice president/racing operations Chris McErlean. "We are going to concentrate on one race at the start to try and get a decent pool size. If it works, we could expand it to other races."

In the Cliff Hanger, Spring House will once again need an early pace to set up his closing move.

Trained by John Hennig, the 4-year-old gelding launched solid rallies in his last three to earn an allowance win and a pair of thirds.

"This horse's entire form is good," Hennig said. "It's all about his ability to close. If he doesn't get pace, it doesn't work. If he gets pace, he's a very dangerous horse."

As usual, Jose Velez, Jr. will be aboard. Spring House has trained solidly since his last race, a one-length loss in the Monmouth's Bob Harding Stakes on Sept. 9.

"The horse is doing well," Hennig said from Monmouth. "He worked last Friday, as good as horse could work."

Spring House was clocked in 1:00 for the five furlongs.

The pace in the race could come from Tune of the Spirit and Indy Wind, who set the pace in Monmouth's Grade 3 Red Bank Handicap before finishing fifth.

"He'll be right up there with the front-runners," said owner-trainer Amy Tarrant. "Hopefully, he'll be able to settle a little bit and move when the timing's right."

Completing the field are Etesaal, a $5,000 supplement; Crown Point; Night Chapter; Old Forester; and Senor Swinger.