05/23/2008 12:00AM

Prop Me Up, Exchanging Fire face off


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Prop Me Up and Exchanging Fire, multiple stakes winners last year who both love Monmouth Park, will square off here Sunday in the $70,000 Monmouth Beach Stakes for fillies and mares.

Both can claim a home-field advantage.

Prop Me Up is 4-4-1 in 10 races at Monmouth, including a win here in the Lady's Secret Stakes. Her connections took an ambitious swing on the home track, running her in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, where she was an overmatched 12th.

This is a more realistic spot, and the 6-year-old should be fit and ready, unlike in her season debut, a distant fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Cicada Stakes at Gulfstream on April 19.

Prop Me Up was transferred to trainer Joe Orseno in February with the goal of getting her ready for Monmouth. She was turned out on a farm when that plan changed abruptly and she was sent to Gulfstream for the Cicada.

"She trained really well for that race, but she was an eighth of a mile short, which we knew," Orseno said. "We felt because it was Florida-breds, we'd take a chance."

There are no excuses for the Monmouth Beach at one mile and 70 yards.

"She bounced out of that race great," Orseno said of the Cicada. "This race had been our intention since day one. She has trained really well for this. She seems to be going forward. I'm looking for a big effort."

Prop Me Up was second, beaten only a neck, in last year's Monmouth Beach.

Exchanging Fire is 2 for-3 here. A $50,000 claim by Kenwood Racing in March of last year, Exchanging Fire captured consecutive Monmouth 3-year-old stakes, the Without Feathers and the Serena's Song.

Those wins propelled her into the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks where, as usual, she set the pace before finishing fourth.

Prop Me Up and Exchanging Fire have tangled twice before. Prop Me Up was an easy winner in the Red Cross Stakes at the Meadowlands while Exchanging Fire faded to fifth.

Both were well up track behind the Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Ginger Punch in the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream in January.

Look for Prussian up front

The speedy Prussian will look to outbreak the field in the supporting feature, the $65,000 Lamplighter Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf.

Trained by Bill Mott, Prussian figures to control the pace in the 1 1/16-mile race. Last fall, the colt used his speed to win the Grade 3 Summer Stakes at Woodbine.

That victory earned him a spot in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Monmouth, where Prussian bobbled at the break, set the pace, and faded to 10th on the yielding course.

In his season debut, Prussian finished fourth last month in the off-the-turf Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland.

* The team of trainer Bruce Levine and jockey Eddie Castro combined to win four races Friday at Monmouth. They scored with Tiznow My Way ($3.20 in the third), Starship Dancer ($4.20 in the sixth), Roux Be Wild ($4.40 in the seventh), and Groovy Kid ($8 in the ninth). It was an ownership triple for Repole Stable with Tiznow My Way, Roux Be Wild, and Groovy Kid.

* Jockey Chris DeCarlo, the first-call rider for trainer Todd Pletcher here, will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a lingering shoulder injury. He will be sidelined three months.