11/01/2003 12:00AM

Return to turf suits 'Doppler'

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Live Doppler will be aiming for another upset Tuesday afternoon as the Thoroughbred meet at The Meadowlands heads into its final week.

The New Jersey racing season concludes Saturday night with a final post of 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

With time running out, turf opportunities have dwindled to a precious few, including Tuesday's $24,000 optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

A return to the turf and a change in equipment by the husband-and-wife training team of Michael and Patricia Farro helped Live Doppler pull off a front-running upset at 40-1 in her most recent start at the Big M. The changes helped the 5-year-old mare rebound from a string of dismal efforts.

Live Doppler seemed to have lost her taste for the game. She was running with cheaper and cheaper claimers while producing diminishing results.

"She just started running bad for no apparent reason," Mike Farro said.

The last race prior to the win was the nadir, as Live Doppler ran for a $4,000 tag and finished last at Philadelphia Park, 37 lengths behind the winner.

The race earned her a -0 Beyer Figure and sent a clear message, that drastic action was needed. It started with a return to the turf for the first time this year.

"We knew she would love the grass," Farro said. "She had run well on it last year, but we had a hard time getting her into a turf race."

Farro also went back to basics. "We took off all the equipment we used to help with her breathing problems," Farro said. "We took off the bits and tongue straps."

Bettors were understandably leery when Live Doppler wound up at the Big M on the grass for an $18,000 claiming price, more than a four-fold increase in the follow-up to the worst race of her career.

Farro had very simple instructions for jockey Felix Ortiz. "I told him to just let her run any way she wanted," Farro said.

Live Doppler, totally refocused, shot right to the front and dictated the fractions in a 2 1/4-length victory. The Beyer Figure zoomed from -0 to 67.

She will need continued improvement as she faces 10 runners in allowance company. Farro thinks Live Doppler can handle the hike.

"She's doing good, and sometimes these races late in the year come up a little weak," Farro said. "She's got more experience than some of these horses."