06/27/2005 12:00AM

Often close, rarely a winner

Email

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Joe Pierce admires the way Gadget Man tries hard in most races.

Too often, however, those efforts fall a neck or a nose short.

gets another crack at his first win of the season in the $41,000 allowance feature Wednesday at a 1 1/8 miles over the turf course.

Not that the 4-year-old Gadget Man hasn't come close.

Three starts back, Gadget Man gamely rallied to miss by a head in a main-track allowance race here.

It was even closer last time on the switch back to the turf. Gadget Man lagged 14 lengths off the pace before uncorking a big rally to miss by a nose.

Those hard-luck losses are the reason Gadget Man is still eligible for the three-other-than allowance condition. He has compiled a record of 2-10-5 in 32 career starts.

"That's the rub of the green," Pierce said of narrow losses. "Sometimes, it works for you and sometimes it works against you."

Gadget Man has developed into a very useful allowance runner who can run on turf or dirt.

"It's fortunate you get horses like that who can handle everything," said Pierce, who also bred and co-owns Gadget Man. "He's not a super horse but he is a nice, steady allowance horse."

Gadget Man earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure last time, only 2 points below his career best. That number makes him a competitive factor in this seven-horse field.

Trainer Christophe Clement, always a threat at Monmouth, is having a sensational meet. Clement is 6 for 9 and looks to snare another victory with Dark Equation.

The 4-year-old will be making his first start of the season, and will have leading rider Joe Bravo aboard.

, a 5-year-old with only nine previous starts, has shown flashes of brilliance. This will be his season debut and his second-straight turf start. Last time out, in October at Keeneland, he stalked the pace and took a narrow lead before losing by a neck.

Chris DeCarlo, who is having an excellent meet with 18 wins already, will be aboard for trainer Phil Oliver.

Remilly, a 4-year-old Brazilian-bred colt, is the unknown factor in the race. He makes his U.S. debut for trainer Stacy McMullin after compiling a record of 2-2-0 in seven races in South America.

Completing the field are Lightning Power, unbeaten in two grass starts; Babel, who overcame an early shuffle to rally for second last time out; and Krissbequick.