07/18/2001 11:00PM

Perkins entry double trouble


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Saturday's $50,000 Dearly Precous Stakes is an example of the kind of solid field being drawn in stakes at this meet.

The Dearly Precious Stakes, run at six furlongs, has drawn an accomplished field of eight 3-year-old filly sprinters, including Grade 1 winner Stormy Pick. Her competition will be tough, with the presence of out-of-town invaders from the barns of top trainers Todd Pletcher and D. Wayne Lukas. Throw into the race locally stabled standouts Talike and Kidsarefun - Stormy Pick's stablemate - and the Dearly Precious, the last 3-year-old filly dirt sprint of the meet, shapes up as a great race for fans and bettors.

Last year, Stormy Pick used Monmouth as a springboard to a win in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga. She won her first two career starts here, then finished second in the Colleen Stakes before winning the Grade 3 Sorority. Her success at Monmouth carried to Saratoga, but since then, she has come up empty against the top fillies of her generation in five starts. Most recently, she finished fourth behind Xtra Heat in the Grade 1 Prioress on July 4 at Belmont. Her connections are hoping a return to her favorite surface will result in a return to the winner's circle.

"She was sitting third in a beautiful spot in the race," said her trainer, Ben Perkins Jr., "but those two [Xtra Heat and Above Perfection] just ran away from everybody. That was a really tough race."

Stormy Pick gets Eibar Coa aboard for the first time.

Perkins holds a strong hand in the stakes, with his entry of Stormy Pick and Kidsarefun. With Kidsarefun, the big question on bettors' minds will be whether she can rebound from her fourth-place performance in the Little Silver Stakes on June 2.

Kidsarefun holds the highest Beyer Speed Figure (104) by far of any horse in the field, set two races back in a nine-length romp in the Nuit d'Amour Handicap on May 19 at Delaware Park. Kidsarefun entered the Little Silver on a four-race career win streak, and was bet to 6-5 as the second choice to the eventual winner, Harmony Lodge. Yet after chasing the early pace, Kidsarefun faded quickly in the slop, beaten 23 1/4 lengths. Was it a bad bounce, and will she come back with another fast figure?

"We brought her back too quick," said Perkins. "Even though she won by nine at Delaware, it was a hard race, and we brought her back just two weeks later. This time she's had six weeks off, and she's working very well again."

Kidsarefun was bought as a 2-year-old last summer for $90,000 at the Timonium sale, and given time to recuperate from bucked shins. She was ready to run by November, but with the Meadowlands closing, Perkins decided to give her time to prepare for a debut at Aqueduct. She reached the races as a 3-year-old in February, and has since shown her sprinting ability. Chuck Lopez will ride her for the first time.

Talike, trained by Alan Goldberg, didn't reach the races until May 13, but in her short career she has shown tremendous ability. Talike won a maiden race by 7 1/4 lengths at Delaware, and then was defeated by Astrid here June 9. Astrid exited that race to win the Serena's Song Stakes on July 4. Talike bled in the loss, and when she returned to the track with Lasix on June 28, she blew away a field of entry-level allowance fillies and mares by 4 1/4 lengths. Talike had suffered from pneumonia as a juvenile, which kept her from the races until her 3-year-old season. Joe Bravo gets the return call.

Enhancing, trained by Lukas, exits a rail-skimming victory in a one-other-than allowance at Churchill Downs on June 13. Owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, Enhancing, a $330,000 daughter of Broad Brush, has two wins at the Dearly Precious distance. Jose Velez Jr. will be aboard Enhancing.

The Pletcher-trained Orphan Avie is undefeated in her career, recording to wire-to-wire wins this year at Belmont. She will be ridden by Chris DeCarlo.

Summer Shenanigans, trained by John Zimmerman, enters the stakes on a two-race winning streak, capped by a blowout win in a Philadelphia Park allowance three weeks ago. Clinton Potts, aboard in her last two, stays in the reins.

Starting from the rail, the entrants for the Dearly Precious are Talike; Stormy Pick; Enhancing; Orphan Avie; Caty's Quest, Jorge Duarte Jr. up; Summer Shenanigans; Gigi's Magic, Jose Ferrer; and Kidsarefun.