05/26/2006 11:00PM

Rivals eager to test Electrify's skills


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Electrify, a dominant winner of consecutive stakes, makes his first start outside his native state of Florida on Monday in the $65,000 Spend a Buck Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The one-mile race for 3-year-olds is the featured event on the holiday card, which starts at 12:50 p.m.

A homebred for Padua Stables trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., Electrify took the Sophomore Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by three lengths on April 8. His follow-up was even more impressive - an eight-length romp in the Unbridled Stakes at Calder on April 29.

Those victories earned Electrify healthy respect from rival trainers.

"The bottom line is, we'll find out how good Electrify is," said Scott Volk, who sends out Extra Bend. "That's the whole thing to this race."

Electrify could help Plesa have an impact this summer at Monmouth, where he has 21 horses stabled.

Electrify appears to have settled in nicely. He had a leisurely work of 1:18.60 for six furlongs on May 22.

"He's very relaxed here," said assistant trainer Sal Cortez. "He went nice and easy."

Trainer Todd Pletcher will try to derail Electrify with Saint Augustus and Ghostly Apparition, who will run uncoupled in the betting. Saint Augustus, the only Triple Crown nominee in the Spend a Buck, faced tough company all winter and spring. He twice finished ninth to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro at Gulfstream, in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and the Grade 3 Holy Bull, and Arkansas Derby winner Lawyer Ron beat him by 19 1/2 lengths in the Grade 3 Risen Star at Louisiana Downs. Saint Augustus also had to chase Electrify last time out in the Unbridled.

"I didn't think we'd hit a monster like we did," said assistant trainer Anthony Sciametta. "There was no catching that winner, but our horse got some confidence back because he did run hard."

Ghostly Apparition steps up to this spot after winning a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream in his last start.

Extra Bend makes his second straight stakes appearance since Volk claimed him from Anthony Dutrow at Aqueduct in March. In his first start for Volk, Extra Bend grabbed the lead with a four-wide move in the Woodlawn Stakes on turf at Pimlico and lost by three-quarters of a length.

"He knows how to win," Volk said. "He's a 3-year-old with good form and he is better on turf than dirt. He's a nice horse and a good claim."

Will Wild Jam show up tired or ready to fire?

Wild Jam had a very productive winter on the inner track at Aqueduct, winning the Brutally Frank Stakes and finishing third in the Grade 3 Toboggan Handicap and the Paumonok Handicap.

A 5-year-old gelding, Wild Jam tries to prove he's got something left in the tank after a long campaign in the $65,000 Wolf Hill Stakes. Wild Jam faces five rivals in the six-furlong race.

"Last year, we brought him here and he was tailing off a little bit," Perkins said. "He seems to be holding his form better this year, so we'll give him a shot or two."

Wild Jam most recently ran sixth in the Hoover Stakes at Pimlico as the 2-1 favorite.