09/10/2002 11:00PM

Patrol in easier spot

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Since he was switched to the turf after coming to Bill Mott's barn, Patrol has done very little wrong. In four starts this year, the 3-year-old Patrol has won three times, including a $75,000 stakes at Delaware Park.

He does have a couple flaws, however.

Patrol must break cleanly and avoid overexerting himself when he makes his first start in five weeks in Friday night's $100,000 Rushing Man Stakes at The Meadowlands.

On the basis of his 3 for 3 turf record and his strong connections of trainer Mott and rider Jerry Bailey, Patrol was the 3-5 favorite in last month's Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Handicap at Saratoga.

Patrol broke slowly, then rushed up to his accustomed position on the lead through fractions of 46.70 seconds and 1:10.98 - far too demanding to last 1 1/8 miles. Despite his early rankness, Patrol still managed to finish third, beaten only two lengths.

The slight cutback to 1 1/16 miles, plus the return to weaker company, should be sufficient for Patrol to regain his winning ways.

His chief threats in the Rushing Man could be two other New York-based horses, Westcliffe and Youghal Bay.

Westcliffe, trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Jose Santos, is 2 for 2 on firm turf, including a sharp allowance score at Belmont Park in early July. He failed to fire last time out racing over a soft course at Monmouth Park.

Youghal Bay, who will be ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher, showed good speed when he finished second by a neck to Westcliffe in his turf debut. If he moves forward his second time over the grass, he should be a major contender.

The program also includes the $50,000 Alysheba, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race for older horses.

Burning Roma, a winner of $614,000 last year, has been burning money throughout his 4-year-old campaign. Although the six horses he faces in the Alysheba don't look particularly imposing, Burning Roma is stuck in an 0 for 6 slump that includes three straight losses as a heavy favorite.

Bettors who are looking to try and beat him again might look to either Combo Nation, who comes off a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure in an allowance, or Tempest Fugit, who has a win and two seconds in his last three races against similar competition at Monmouth.

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