11/24/2004 1:00AM

Next step for Monkey Hill


NEW ORLEANS - Monkey Hill, a grassy mound in the Audubon Zoo, is the highest spot in the city of New Orleans. Its namesake, a 3-year-old chestnut colt owned by Marc and Jill Winston, will attempt to climb a notch through the allowance ranks Friday at Fair Grounds in the feature race, a $30,000 six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up.

Marc Winston used to play on Monkey Hill when he was a kid.

"It's a famous spot in New Orleans at the zoo, where they built an artificial hill so the kids of New Orleans would know what a hill looked like," said Winston.

won a maiden race at Fair Grounds on Jan. 4 with a solid come-from-behind sprint victory as the favorite.

"I thought he ran well in that race and the one after that," said trainer Tom Amoss. Monkey Hill finished second at six furlongs after leading in the stretch in his second Fair Grounds start, back on Feb. 2.

Following a summer break, Monkey Hill finished second again in a six-furlong sprint at Arlington Park on Sept. 15 after being bumped in the stretch. He returned at Churchill Downs on Oct. 31 in a six-furlong allowance sprint, where he finished fourth with another troubled trip.

"He got left at the gate, and he lost all chance," said Amoss.

Monkey Hill will be ridden by the defending Fair Grounds jockey champion, Robby Albarado.

Mr. Ron, the only horse in the race to have won twice, was last seen Feb. 9 at Fair Grounds winning a one mile and 40-yard route by 21 1/4 lengths. He drilled a bullet 47.80-second half-mile Monday for his return.

Another speedster, Roger That, finished first in both of his starts but was disqualified to sixth in his debut. Roger That also turned in a bullet work at Fair Grounds, breezing a half-mile in 48 seconds Nov. 13.

J.G.'s Jazz is also usually there early but is still looking for his second win in his 15th start.

Nebulous is a sheer closer who is cutting back in distance from a seven-furlong sprint at Keeneland, where he finished eighth.

Louisiana-bred Sidebuster B finished second in Roger That's DQ race and was placed first.