08/02/2001 11:00PM

North East Bound in line to repeat


OCEANPORT, N.J. - A field of 14 was entered for the Grade 3, $100,000 Oceanport Handicap on the turf, the feature stakes of six on the undercard at Monmouth Park. North East Bound, the 121-pound highweight in the Oceanport, run at 1 1/16 miles, will be the heavy favorite to capture the race for the second year in a row.

Trained by Bill Perry, North East Bound is the most accomplished horse in the field, finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Mile last year and winning the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile this year. He finished fourth in the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap on July 1 at 1 3/8 miles, the longest race of his career, and a cutback in the Oceanport should be more suited to him. Jose Velez Jr. will ride from post 5.

The field contains several legitimate upset candidates. Runspastum, trained by Alan Goldberg, was third here in the Grade 3 Red Bank Handicap opening weekend, while Ready to Roll won the Battlefield Stakes here June 10. Out-of-town invaders with live chances include Lightning Paces and Night Patrol.

Salvator wide open

The Grade 3, $150,000 Salvator Mile Handicap will definitely be a competitive betting race without a definitive favorite.

One possibility is the Jersey-bred Thistyranthasclass, who has been pointing for this race since the beginning of the meet. On the same weekend last year, Thistyranthasclass put in a solid performance as the fifth-place finisher in the Haskell. His connections are hoping for a similar gutsy performance.

Fellow state-bred Sea of Tranquility gave Thistyranthasclass the only blemish on his record this summer, defeating him by a nose in the Jersey Breeders' Handicap on June 16. Sea of Tranquility has won his last two in restricted company, but should be geared for a top effort.

Rize, winner of the Grade 2 Iselin here last summer, could also vie for favoritism. He has run extremely well this meet, finishing second in the Skip Away Stakes to Broken Vow and winning a money allowance.

Verruma at peak for Eatontown

The Grade 3, $100,000 Eatontown Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the turf features a horse peaking at the right time.

Verruma, a Brazilian-bred 5-year-old, made her first start off a nearly two-year layoff on June 4. She finished second in the Roseanna at Delaware Park to another Eatontown Handicap starter, Quidnaskra, and then returned to win a conditioned allowance at Belmont.

Lucky Lune, trained by Christophe Clement, ran second to Colstar in the Grade 3 All Along in her last start. Gary Stevens gets the call.

Quidnaskra has won four out of her last five starts for trainer Mary Eppler. She will be setting the fractions up front under Corey Nakatani.

Mumtaz, trained by Tom Amoss, was second in last year's running of the Eatontown.

Restoration field highly competitive

Three $75,000 stakes add to the impressive card. The most competitive field is in the Restoration Stakes, which drew 14 3-year-olds on the turf.

Sir Brian's Sword, trained by Clement, ran seventh in the Hill Prince at Belmont in his last start. He previously had run second in the Jersey Derby here and won the Citation on the turf.

Spruce Run has run exceptionally well here, winning the Spend a Buck Stakes and finishing second to First Spear in the Lamplighter Handicap on July 7.

The horse to beat in the Restoration may be Honours List, an Irish-bred trained by Todd Pletcher. Honours List had finished in the money in three stakes at Longchamp in France as a 2-year-old, and when brought to the country in November last year, he ran poorly on the dirt. This is his first race since then, but a return to his preferred surface will make him a solid choice.

The other two stakes are the Lady's Secret, for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards, and the Teddy Drone, for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs.

Princess Ellen, the probable favorite in the Lady's Secret, was moved off the turf to the dirt in her last start by trainer Tom Skiffington, and it proved to be a great move as she won impressively. She ran in Grade 1's on the turf, but the Lady's Secret, which drew a field of 11, will be her first dirt stakes try.