09/04/2007 11:00PM

Park Avenue Ball gets rolling

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N. J. - Trainer Jim Ryerson was heartened by Park Avenue Ball's comeback, a second behind standout sprinter Smokey Stover in the Icecapade Stakes Saturday at Monmouth Park.

The 5-year-old Park Avenue Ball, one of the all-time leading New Jersey-breds, had not run since undergoing throat surgery following a sixth-place finish in Monmouth's Elkwood Stakes on May 26.

"We were very pleased with his race," Ryerson said. "We're very pleased with the way he came out of it. That gave us a race with a very tough horse to run against."

Park Avenue Ball has earned over $1 million, winning a graded stakes in each of his three full racing seasons - the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont in 2004, the Grade 3 Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth in 2005, and Monmouth's Grade 3 Iselin Handicap last year.

Having lost most of the summer to the surgery, Park Avenue Ball lacks the graded-stakes points needed to qualify for the Breeders' Cup at Monmouth on Oct. 26-27.

He is winless in four starts this year, and has accumulated only 4 points, for a second-place finish in the Richter Scale Handicap at Gulfstream Park in March.

That leaves him well down on the contender lists for either of the two Breeders' Cup races he might find suitable, the Sprint or the inaugural running of the Dirt Mile.

Ryerson is leaning toward the Sprint, putting Park Avenue Ball on target for the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont on Sept. 30. The Vosburgh is one of the remaining Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" races that gives the winner an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup.

"We hope to go up there and give a good account of ourselves," Ryerson said. "Hopefully, he has re-emerged in everybody's consciousness as one of the 14 horses that belongs in one of the Breeders' Cup races. That last race put us back on the radar screens."

Forbes bummed by Pa. Derby performances

The Pennsylvania Derby on Monday was a huge disappointment for trainer John Forbes and his longtime assistant Pat McBurney as their entry of Cable Boy and Get Serious finished 10th and 11th.

The two colts had raced well at Monmouth Park and were solidly bet at 5-1. But neither gave supporters any reason to cheer.

Cable Boy burst on the scene in late spring, reeling off three straight wins while breaking the track record for a mile and 70 yards in what was only his second start. With three wins on his resume, Cable Boy stepped up to the Gradeo1 Haskell Invitational and set the pace before fading to fifth. Forbes blamed the Haskell fade on the thumps, which produces a rhythmic contraction of the diaphragm. But Forbes had no explanation for the Pennsylvania Derby, in which Cable Boy and jockey Jose Velez Jr. shot right to the front and faded badly on the final turn.

"We're at our wit's end," Forbes said. "He's gone from galloping along the first three times to empty.

"We have some ideas. We're going to regroup and get to the bottom of it. We know he didn't perform in these last two races. We're going back to the drawing board and make sure the horse is okay and go from there."

Get Serious, a New York-bred who was 2-1-1 in 4 starts, all at Monmouth, was never a factor in the Pennsylvania Derby. According to Forbes, the colt bled through the Lasix treatment.

Two stakes fail to fill

Neither of the $60,000 stakes scheduled for Friday night at the Meadowlands – the Majestic Prince at one mile and 70 yards and the Manila for turf routers – drew enough entries. That left a $38,000 second-level allowance with an option for $32,000 claimers going 1 1/16 miles as the feature on the first night card of the meet.

El Chile Dog puts a two-race winning streak on the line, breaking from the rail under Joe Bravo, Monmouth's top rider.