06/20/2007 12:00AM

Reata's Shadow takes on invaders

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In a race with a strong Delaware Park flavor, locally based Reata's Shadow could be the horse to beat Friday in a $37,000 first-level allowance for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park.

The mile and 70-yard contest attracted seven runners, including Guided Affair, Two Punch Jones, and Crusader Rabbit, who each made his most recent start at Delaware.

Reata's Shadow has already run twice at this Monmouth meet. The colt rallied from 13 lengths off the pace to win his maiden on opening day, then found a challenging spot in his first start against winners on May 26. In that race, the undefeated Cable Boy, on target for the Coronado's Quest Stakes here Sunday, broke the track record for this distance, drawing away to a 4 1/4-length win. Runner-up Keeneland Kid came back to win his next start. After a typical slow start, Reata's Shadow got fourth.

"We were very happy with that first race of the meet when he got up to win," said trainer Joe Orseno. "The track was playing very fast for the last race, and you needed speed, which he doesn't have. I think the track is playing much fairer now.

"I also ran him back in two weeks, which was a bad call. He should have a better kick now."

Reata's Shadow, a Triple Crown nominee, never made it to the 3-year-old stakes in the winter and spring. He didn't make his first start until January at Gulfstream Park.

"He's a pretty nice horse," Orseno said. "He never did show much in the morning, and I never pushed him."

The three horses who most recently ran at Delaware all finished second in allowance races.

Like Reata's Shadow, Crusader Rabbit is a late developer. The Michael Matz-trained gelding missed by a neck last out.

Two Punch Jones, trained and part-owned by Tim Ritchey, turned in an encouraging effort to hold the place going a mile. It was his first race beyond six furlongs.

Guided Affair was a successful claim by trainer Sandra Slivka for $32,000 from a maiden race at Gulfstream Park. The colt has won twice with one second in three starts since the barn change, but lost one of the victories on a disqualification for crowding rivals in the early stages.

Value Player, also claimed from a Gulfstream maiden race, looks to regroup for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. following a poor effort in his turf debut.

Jamestown Captain and Veritaserum complete the field.