07/11/2006 11:00PM

Praying for Cash on for Long Branch run

High Blitz, trained by Justin Nixon, takes the Mr. Prospector on Saturday for his second stakes win of the meet.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Kelly Breen has two candidates for Saturday's Long Branch Stakes, Monmouth Park's traditional prep for the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

One is no surprise: Praying for Cash. A son of Songandaprayer, he has 2 wins and a second in 3 starts here for Breen, the meet's leading trainer.

Breen's other possible runner might be a reach: the New Jersey-bred Meadow Blue, who would require a $5,000 supplement.

Getting a handle on the Long Branch field is not an easy task, given the intense competition from the very similar Leonard Richards Stakes on Sunday at Delaware Park. Both are Grade 3 stakes for 3-year-olds run at 1 1/16 miles.

Seven of the nine Richards runners are nominated to the Long Branch.

The Richards has the purse advantage: $300,000 vs. $150,000 for the Long Branch. The big edge for the Long Branch is that it effectively preps horses for the $1 million Haskell on Aug. 6. The last two Long Branch winners, Lion Heart in 2004 and Park Avenue Ball last year, ran first and third, respectively, in the Haskell.

Trainer Bobby Frankel confirmed Wednesday that Latent Heat, a commanding allowance winner last time out at Belmont Park, will run in the Long Branch. The colt, 2-1-1 in 4 starts, is also entered in the Richards. Monmouth will draw the Long Branch field on Thursday.

Praying for Cash earned his way into the Long Branch with a second-place finish in Monmouth's Coronado's Quest Stakes despite an awkward start in the colt's first route race.

"For the first time going long, we were all pleased with the race he ran," Breen said.

Meadow Blue could also make the Long Branch following a pair of a decisive allowance wins over New Jersey-breds.

"We're talking it over," Breen said. "He is right, right now. Once we ran him long, he ran two impressive races."

Other likely Long Branch runners, according to the track's stakes coordinator, Mike Melendez, include Flashy Bull, who was entered in Saturday's Ohio Derby; Coronado's Quest winner Gottcha Gold; and Throng.

Nixon at home on the road

Justin Nixon is enjoying a productive first season on the Jersey Shore.

The trainer for Frank Stronach's Monmouth division rarely fails to hit the board. Nixon has a record of 4-2-3 in 14 starts, including two stakes victories by 6-year-old High Blitz.

"I'm having a good time here," said Nixon, who, since joining the Stronach team in 2002, has trained divisions in Maryland, Fort Erie, Mountaineer Park, Woodbine, Belmont Park, and Aqueduct.

"I've been the road man, which is excellent, because everywhere I've gone, I've learned something," said Nixon, 37.

High Blitz has helped make this stop enjoyable, with wins in the Wolf Hill Stakes on May 29 and the Mr. Prospector Stakes on Saturday. He earned Beyer Speed Figures of 109 and 103, respectively, in those wins.

Nixon said High Blitz will likely return in Monmouth's $100,000 Teddy Drone Stakes on Aug. 6.

Lady Carson M D looks solid

Breen will send out Lady Carson M D, a solid contender in Friday's $47,500 first-level allowance feature for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares at six furlongs.

This will be the 3-year-old's second start against winners following a race in which she got away poorly and faded badly. She earned a race-best Beyer Figure of 70 in her maiden victory here on May 14.

- additional reporting by David Grening