06/08/2006 12:00AM

Only two have tried distance


Rare is the stakes race carded at 1 1/2 miles on dirt, and eclectic is the cast assembled for the 1 1/2-mile Point Given Stakes, which is featured on a 12-race card Saturday at Monmouth Park.

Lower-level stakes at Monmouth sometimes fail to fill, but the track made two of them go Saturday: Besides the $60,000 Point Given, the 12-race card also includes the $60,000 Spruce Fir for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards.

The backgrounds of horses in the Point Given range from one-time $12,500 claimer Mike's Greenfields to one-time Triple Crown hopeful to the Chilean import We Can Seek. But the most important question handicappers have to ask is which of the seven entrants is best suited to the 1 1/2-mile trip. Only two have attempted the distance: Indy Storm was a distant fourth in last year's Belmont Stakes, and We Can Seek finished second in a Chilean Group 1 on dirt, and twice ran decently in Chile on turf.

In fact, looks like the favorite and horse to beat in the Point Given, considering his experience at the distance and his solid recent form. We Can Seek, who made his U.S. debut last fall for trainer Mark Hennig, finished second to Bandini in the April 1 Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream, then won a high-end Aqueduct allowance race at 1 1/4 miles before finishing fifth last out in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special.

Scipion, a $1.9 million yearling purchase in 2003, has never fulfilled the promise he showed when he won the Risen Star Stakes at 3. Layoffs and a lack of acceleration have kept Scipion out of the winner's circle since he won the Risen Star in February 2005, and he most recently finished fourth in a second-level allowance race at Monmouth. But Scipion looks the part of a horse who might show his best going 1 1/2 miles on dirt and should not be quickly dismissed.

has form from the not-too-distant past that would make him competitive, but has turned in subpar efforts his last two starts. Indy Storm is winless over the last 13 months, Malibu Moonshine over the last 14 months, and Zoffinger over the last two years. Mike's Greenfields, making his 42nd start, was in for a $12,500 tag as recently as last August, but has turned in strong races in Maryland in three of his last four starts. Colita and Mike's Greenfields are cross-entered in Saturday's Brandywine Stakes at Delaware Park.