05/12/2005 11:00PM

Pa Pa Da on brink of turf stardom


ELMONT, N.Y. - As a 2-year-old, Pa Pa Da looked like he could be a stakes horse on dirt or turf. Midway through his 3-year-old year, one wondered if Pa Pa Da would get through his New York-bred allowance conditions.

If his last race was any indication, Pa Pa Da looks like a potential turf star, a premise that will be tested Sunday when the 4-year-old faces a full field of statebreds in the $100,000 Kingston Handicap at Belmont Park. The 1 1/8-mile race will be limited to 10 starters, though 13 were entered for the turf with an additional two horses carded for the main track.

has won his last three starts on turf, including a victory in last October's Cormorant Division of the New York Stallion Stakes. His breakthrough performance, however, came last month at Aqueduct when he won an open-company third-level allowance race, covering one mile in 1:34.87, just .27 of a second off the course record set by Tax Dodge in 1985.

"I thought he would run well; I was really pleased he won it with authority,'' trainer David Donk said. "Hopefully, it bodes well for a summer campaign.''

Pa Pa Da flourished following a summer freshening, the addition of blinkers, and learning to rate. The biggest obstacle facing Pa Pa Day could be distance, as all four of his turf wins have come at one mile. The Kingston is an additional furlong.

"I don't think any distance is a problem,'' said Donk, whose horse blew out three furlongs in a bullet 36.23 seconds on Friday.

Six of the 10 horses in the body of the race are making their seasonal debut. That includes , the 120-pound highweight who won this race in 2003. Irish Colonial loves Belmont and won the Mohawk Handicap over this course last October. He has not started since Dec. 18, and his 6-year-old campaign has been hampered by the strangles scare in south Florida.

Trainer Randy Schulhofer wanted to get a prep into Irish Colonial, but could not ship out of Florida. Though Irish Colonial shows a five-week gap in workouts, he did work five furlongs in 59 seconds on the Palm Meadows turf, Schulhofer said, a work that was conducted after regular training hours and therefore not recorded.

, who was beaten a nose in the Grade 2 Red Smith at Aqueduct last November, could the one to catch under Cornelio Velasquez. Foreverness, second in this race a year ago, must be respected returning to Belmont and reuniting with Jerry Bailey.