06/27/2006 11:00PM

Park Avenue Ball, Network gladly move on


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Park Avenue Ball and Network turned out none the worse for wear following their encounter with Flower Alley in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile.

The presence of Flower Alley made last Saturday's Salvator one of the toughest in years. Last year's Travers Stakes winner, Flower Alley was making his first start since running second in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Flower Alley won by 3 1/4 lengths in the slop over Park Avenue Ball, who finished a head in front of Network.

"We were happy with our race," said Jim Ryerson, Park Avenue Ball's trainer. "He came back good and he'll fight another fight."

Ryerson was awaiting a decision from owners Marianne and Charlie Hesse III on the New Jersey-bred Park Avenue Ball's next start. Monmouth's Grade 3, $250,000 Iselin Handicap on Aug. 19 is a long-range possibility. "Right now, it's too early to tell," Ryerson said.

Network had a swollen eye but was otherwise fine.

"He's doing good," said owner-trainer Eddie Broome. "He ate a lot of slop when he was coming up in there."

Network, who has not won since the Lamplighter Stakes on the grass at Monmouth last August, could be headed back to the turf. Broome is strongly considering Monmouth's $60,000 Elkwood Stakes on July 15.

"I want to find a spot I think I can win," said Broome. "We need to get him back to the winner's circle."

Broome has had enough of Flower Alley.

"There was a horse that didn't belong in there," Broome said. "He was using the race as a prep, when for us it's all we got."

Jersey Shore kicks off stakes spree

Monmouth heads into a busy portion of its stakes schedule with three graded races in a one-week span.

It starts Saturday with Henny Hughes headlining the Grade 3, $150,000 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.

Henny Hughes will be making his first start since finishing second to Stevie Wonderboy in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Henny Hughes spent the winter in Dubai but did not race there. He returned to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin at Belmont Park in early April.

"He looks fabulous," McLaughlin said. "He's been training very well this month."

Henny Hughes will face Changing Weather, Fabulous Strike, He's Got Grit, Keyed Entry, and Saint Daimon on Saturday.

The action shifts to the turf Tuesday, July 4, for the Grade 3, $150,000 Boiling Springs Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

Stakes coordinator Mike Melendez's list of likely runners includes Quite a Bride, who won the Trenton Stakes at The Meadowlands last time out, Kitty Hawk, Mama Nadine, Perilous Pursuit, Stadore, and Stolen Prayer.

The week's highlights conclude with the meet's premier turf event, the Grade 1, $750,000 United Nations Stakes on July 8.

American Freedom's got it going again

American Freedom returns to his favorite course Friday in the $45,000 optional claiming feature at Monmouth Park.

An 8-year-old gray gelding, American Freedom is one of three horses, including stablemate and half brother Freedom's Honor, running for a $50,000 tag.

Half of American Freedom's 10 wins have come on the grass at Monmouth. He returns from a seven-month layoff for trainer Jamie Woodington following a detour to Kentucky.

When the grass season came to an end here last fall, owner Yaroslaw Kolybabiuk sent American Freedom to trainer Steve Penrod at Churchill Downs for two more turf races. American Freedom was not competitive in either.

"He ran two very subpar races out there, which is unusual for him," Woodington said. "He's fine right now, and he's good to go. He's ready to thrive at Monmouth Park."

With heavy rain hitting the area earlier this week, the course should be softened, another plus for American Freedom.

"He likes some give to the course," Woodington said. "That is always a plus."

Last year, American Freedom won Monmouth's Grade 3 Red Bank Handicap on a soft course.

Freedom's Honor got his season under way with a pair of races at Belmont Park. He ran second most recently in a $35,000 claimer.

Neither one will run if the race comes off the turf, Woodington said.

Spring House is set to run turf or dirt. Most recently Spring House, 4, was a rallying third in the Battlefield Stakes at The Meadowlands.

The gelding has run exclusively on turf in his 16-race career, but his connections have been considering a switch.

"We anticipated this race possibly coming off the turf," said trainer John Hennig. "We're going to stay either way; we're a starter. I think it would be a fair place to test him on the dirt without having to face Flower Alley, Park Avenue Ball, or Network."

* Jockey Eddie Castro, riding his first summer at Monmouth, won three races Wednesday. Two were on horses trained by Stanley Hough: Esclarecido in the first and Bound Notebook in the fifth. He also won with Heckuva Good Time in the third. Castro also won three races here on June 17.