08/16/2006 11:00PM

Park Avenue Ball on a roll

Bill Denver / EQUI-PHOTOS
Park Avenue Ball wins the Skip Away with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure, tops lifetime among the eight runners in Saturday's Philip Iselin BC Stakes.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Park Avenue Ball, fresh from a career-best victory, tops a field of eight Saturday in the Grade 3, $250,000 Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Stakes, the top dirt race for older horses at Monmouth Park.

Park Avenue Ball won Monmouth's Skip Away Stakes, the Iselin prep, by a commanding five lengths on July 23.

A 4-year-old New Jersey-bred colt, Park Avenue Ball earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure that day, the best career number of any horse in the Iselin.

Park Avenue Ball has always run well at Monmouth, with a record of 5-2-1 in 8 starts here. Last summer, he won the Grade 3 Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes as a prelude to a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

This year, Park Avenue Ball has been marching steadily toward the 1 1/8-mile Iselin. After starting with a third in the Ponche Stakes at Calder in April, Park Avenue Ball has run three times at Monmouth with each race spaced a month apart.

"We're happy with how everything has gone," said trainer Jim Ryerson.

Park Avenue Ball has won twice this meet. His only loss was a second to Grade 1 winner Flower Alley in the Salvator Mile.

"The Salvator Mile was our first goal but we didn't win that one," Ryerson said. "Then we decided to see if we could get to the Iselin, and the Skip Away became the easiest way to do that. Everything has just worked out."

Trainer Shug McGaughey hopes the Iselin works out better for Survivalist than did the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. Survivalist ran poorly, finishing ninth to snap a three-race win streak.

"I don't know why he didn't run any good," McGaughey said. "The track was a little bit heavy that day, but I don't know.''

"He seems to be training great. I'll go back to a little bit easier spot and see how he does. Then maybe we'll try to jump him up again. The Woodward isn't out of the question.''

Trainer Todd Pletcher continues his assault on Monmouth's stakes, this time with Master Command.

Pletcher has won nine stakes at the meet, including both Grade 1's with English Channel in the United Nations Stakes and Bluegrass Cat in the Haskell.

Master Command looks to bounce back from a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

Completing the field are Network, Sinister G, Sinners N Saints, Tap Day, and Zoffinger.

- additional reporting by David Grening