07/05/2005 12:00AM

Orpington exits key turf race


ELMONT, N.Y. - Orpington, who nearly two months ago finished a close fourth in one of the tougher second-level turf allowance races of the meet, looms the one to beat when he returns in Thursday's featured eighth race at Belmont Park.

The 1 1/16-mile allowance, which drew a field of eight that includes one main-track-only, is scheduled for the inner turf course, where the field breaks directly onto the clubhouse turn. Orpington drew nicely in post 2, which will enable his rider, John Velazquez, to save ground in the early going.

, who posted a last-to-first win against preliminary allowance rivals at The Meadowlands last fall, is winless in five attempts at this level, but last out was beaten just two lengths in a very tough turf race. The winner, Relaxed Gesture, returned to finish second in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap, and the second- and third-finishers came back to win.

The lone two-time winner at Thursday's distance, Orpington recorded three straight bullet workouts at Fair Hill in June.

, who comes off two improved efforts for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, breaks from post 3 with Jose Santos as he steps up a notch in class. After four second-place finishes, Mumble Jumble finally got his first allowance win last time out. It was just his second win from 17 career starts, but the consistent 5-year-old Mumble Jumble always runs his race, with in-the-money finishes in 10 of his last 12 outings.

, whose first and only turf win came in England as a 2-year-old, took the worst of the draw and breaks from the far outside if the race remains on the grass. His fifth-place finish on this course last month was his best effort in terms of Beyer Speed Figures since he finished third in last year's Peter Pan Stakes.

Musical Native drew the inside post for his first start since a minor turf stakes at Delaware Park 10 months ago. Now trained by Stanley Hough, he returns with blinkers on, and recently turned in a bullet workout on the inner turf course.

, the lone 3-year-old in the field, makes his first start since setting the pace and fading to sixth in the Illinois Derby. He is part of a Jennifer Pedersen-trained entry along with Crazy Song, who is still eligible for a first-level allowance race. Daddy Joe tries turf for the first time, as does the Nick Zito-trained Capac.