07/03/2003 11:00PM

Opportunity on turf


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The weekend of turf action at Monmouth Park concludes Sunday afternoon with the $50,000 Little Silver Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles.

While the Grade 1, $750,000 United Nations Handicap Saturday topped the grass action over the holiday weekend, the Little Silver drew a strong field of 10 sprinkled with those who have stakes experience.

The opportunity to run on grass, so limited during May and June, comes as a welcome development to many. In the case of Impolite, trained by Linda Rice, the shift back to the turf course is long overdue.

"We're all doing a happy dance," said Samantha Randazzo, who trains Rice's Monmouth-based string. "Impolite was getting sick of losing on the dirt. It was affecting her attitude. She'll love getting back on the grass."

Impolite won her second grass attempt, an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in April. She has run three times in stakes races since then - the Hilltop at Pimlico, and the Revidere and Post Deb at Monmouth - that were slated for turf but wound up on wet dirt.

The Little Silver attracted a number of talented shippers, led by Forest Shadows. She has won 3 of 4 starts on the turf, including the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Leading owner Michael Gill has entered City Fire and Our Mariah.

City Fire figures to set the pace, as she did in winning the Hilltop and Revidere. She opened up a two-length lead turning for home in the Post Deb, but settled for second.

Our Mariah seems better suited to turf sprints.

Little Miss Pamela has extensive stakes experience. She won the Oakley Stakes at Colonial Downs in her most recent.

The race also includes fillies like Comeback to Me who are trying to establish stakes credentials. Trainer and co-owner Paul Parisi claimed her for $25,000 at Gulfstream in March.

She has picked up two wins for the new connections, first for a $35,000 claiming tag at Gulfstream and later in a Monmouth allowance race. Parisi has yet to run her on turf.

"I think she's a better filly on the grass," Parisi said. "Is she good enough to beat horses like this? I'm not sure yet."

Completing the field are Bonay, Film Maker, Marc's Rainbow, and Commander's Lady.

Another way to get here

New York City racing fans have an additional option for reaching Monmouth thanks to increased ferry service.

New York Waterway now joins SeaStreak in providing access to Monmouth from Manhattan.

New York Waterway's "Monmouth Park Express" departs West 38th Street at 11:10 a.m. on the weekend for the 45-minute ride to the Jersey Shore. Buses meet the ferry at the Belford Terminal to complete the final leg to the track. The return bus departs the track at 5:45 p.m.

The $27 cost includes grandstand admission and a track program.