11/21/2009 12:00AM

Servis out to retain top spot


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Jason Servis doesn't know if he has enough bullets left to hold off Bruce Levine in the showdown for leading trainer at the Meadowlands.

With only two weeks left in the meet, Servis is clinging to a narrow lead as he tries to nail down his fourth Big M title in the last five years.

Servis fires two shots in the $52,000 Monday feature, a second-level optional $22,000 claimer for New Jersey-breds at a mile.

He entered the duo of Bythebeautifulsea, who came out on the wrong end of a head bob 11 days ago, and Balaban, a 3-year-old making only his sixth start.

A win by either would give Servis some needed breathing room in the trainer battle. He began Saturday night's Meadowlands card with a two-win lead.

"I'm kind of low on horses as I gear down for the winter," Servis said. "I'm not going to sacrifice a horse or do something silly just to win the title. It would be nice if it happens."

As usual, Servis started strong at the Meadowlands, following his recent pattern of lightening up on his stable in the final month at Monmouth Park with the goal having horses ready to roll when the circuit shifts north.

Servis was not firmly committed to running both of his horses Monday. He might scratch Bythebeautifulsea, who drew the rail in the eight-horse field and would be wheeling back on relatively short rest.

"He just got beat the other day sprinting," Servis said. "If I do scratch, I would probably scratch him. I have to look at the race. If there's no speed in there, he could go. He's a really fast horse."

Apprentice rider Angel Serpa was named to ride Bythebeautifulsea, a 5-year-old gelding, one of the five runners in the field carrying a $22,000 claiming tag.

Balaban, with Jose Lezcano aboard, is a closer who finished third last time out in his first route race.

"He's a lightly raced horse who is just starting to figure things out," Servis said. "He ran good going long the first time. That opens a lot of options."

While the Servis duo are coupled in the wagering, John Tammaro III sends out a pair as separate betting interests: Luna Park and Fagedaboudit Sal.

Trainer Bruce Alexander, who upset the Honey Bee Handicap on Friday night with Lady Alexander, will try for a third straight Big M win with Timeless Classic.