06/04/2001 11:00PM

Rivalry renewed in Meadowbrook


ELMONT, N.Y. - The much-anticipated rivalry this week is between Monarchos and Point Given in the Belmont Stakes, but that's not the only important rematch taking place at Belmont this week.

On Thursday, jumpers Flasher and Praise the Prince meet for the fifth time in the $100,000-added Meadowbrook Stakes.

Twelve entered the 2 1/2-mile, 12-fence Meadowbrook, a Grade 1 and the final leg of the steeplechase triple crown for novice jumpers.

Flasher holds the edge over Praise the Prince, winning three of the four times they have met by narrow margins. But Praise the Prince's trainer, Sanna Neilson, said, "It wouldn't take a whole lot to turn the tables."

Praise the Prince won the Hard Scuffle at Churchill Downs, the first leg of the triple, while Flasher ran a dismal seventh, beaten 28 1/2 lengths. In the Joe Aitcheson at Pimlico, Flasher earned a neck decision over Praise the Prince. Last year, Flasher, who is trained by Jim Day, got the better of Praise the Prince in two races.

Day offered an excuse for Flasher's poor performance in the Hard Scuffle.

"He didn't eat or drink from the time he arrived in Kentucky on Wednesday morning until he ran Thursday," said Day, who will ship Flasher to Belmont Thursday morning. "He ran like a dehydrated horse.

"I think he'll run back to his race at Pimlico," Day added. "I fancied him a lot that day and when I saw his price [12-1] I thought, 'awesome.' "

Paul Carberry, in from Ireland, rides Flasher, who drew post 8 and totes 157 pounds.

Neilson said she doesn't envision the 2 1/2 miles of the Meadowbrook being too much for Praise the Prince, but she is worried about the 160 pounds her horse carries as the highweight.

"He's not a very big horse, just 15.3 [hands], and the weight is my own little concern," said Neilson, who saddled Pompeyo to a third in last year's Meadowbrook.

Gus Browns rides Praise the Prince from post 2.

Tres Touche and War Talk have reasonable shots at toppling the favorites.

War Talk was third in the Hard Scuffle and fourth in the Aitcheson and won a Grade 3 earlier this year for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Tres Touche, who should show the way early, faded to fifth in the Aitcheson after setting the early pace. He ran a strong race before that for trainer Ricky Hendriks, a former jump rider, when he was beaten a nose by Praise the Prince in the Hard Scuffle.