09/14/2007 12:00AM

Retribution out to steal another

EmailELMONT, N.Y. - There is no fear of Retribution in the $100,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap for New York-breds on the turf Sunday at Belmont Park.

Just a healthy respect for the pacesetter's ability to steal a race, like he did in last year's Cole.

Retribution opened a 15-length lead after six furlongs of the 1 1/8-mile race and finished with a 4 1/4-length victory.

Foreverness, trained by Greg Sacco, was one of the trailers in last year's Cole. The gelding came from far back to get third.

"You have to let Retribution run his race," Sacco said. "You can't take your horse out of his element. You know Retribution is going to go. You have to let your horse settle into stride and go to him when necessary. Retribution, on his best day, can steal away and win the race."

Retribution has the outside post in the 10-horse field with Jorge Chavez taking over as pilot.

The top older New York-bred grass runners last squared off at Saratoga in the West Point Handicap on Aug. 12. Retribution, as expected, fired out to a 15-length lead. He ran of out steam, finishing eighth.

Foreverness was part of the pack that came charging as the pacesetter faltered. The 8-year-old gelding took a narrow lead at the top of the lane before settling for third.

Foreverness is in the midst of another solid campaign with a record of 1-1-2 in 4 starts. The victory came in Belmont's Naskra's Breeze Stakes for statebreds on July 12.

"He's a genuine horse," Sacco said. "He's tough and I think Belmont is his favorite track. He's always run well on the wide sweeping turns. I think he's ready for another peak effort. He came out of the Saratoga race in good shape and he's trained well for this race."

Kent Desormeaux, Foreverness' rider the last two races, heads to Canada on Sunday, so Jose Lezcano picks up the mount. Lezcano was aboard three starts back when Foreverness missed by a neck in an allowance race at Monmouth Park.

Trainer David Donk entered an uncoupled pair of Pa Da Da, winless in four races this year, and Spurred, a 3-year-old emerging as a force in the statebred turf ranks.

Red Zipper, runner-up in the West Point, captured Belmont's Kingston Handicap in his other statebred appearance this year. He also was fifth in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Completing the field are Charimount, Bethpage Black, Dave, Banrock, and Al Basha.