06/14/2004 12:00AM

Seven stakes winners drop in


ELMONT, N.Y. - Seven stakes winners, who are a combined 2 for 18 this year, seek a return to glory Wednesday when they run in a $56,000 classified allowance race at one mile over Belmont Park's Widener Turf Course.

Six of the seven runners are dropping out of graded-stakes company, while Region of Merit, the 2003 Tampa Bay Derby winner, tries turf for the first time. Four additional horses were entered main-track only.

Nothing to Lose and Silver Tree, who finished sixth and eighth, respectively, in the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 21, will likely vie for favoritism.

won the Tropical Park Derby and Palm Beach Derby as a 3-year-old in the barn of trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Following an 11-month layoff to recover from a shin fracture, Nothing to Lose was transferred to Bobby Frankel. Nothing to Lose finished second behind Sweet Return in the Grade 2 San Marcos at Santa Anita before losing by 2 3/4 lengths in the Muniz.

"He had a quarter crack problem that was turning into an abscess," Frankel said. "I don't think he was right that day. We've rushed him a little to get him here, but he's been good the last three weeks."

John Velazquez rides Nothing to Lose from post 6.

, who won last year's Virginia Derby, began the year with an allowance win at Gulfstream at one mile. He found himself on the lead - where trainer Bill Mott did not want him - in the Muniz, then lacked a sufficient closing kick when beaten five lengths in the Grade 2 Dixie Handicap on May 15.

Horse-for-course players may try Navesink, who has recorded three of his six career victories at Belmont, including the 2001 Jamaica Handicap. Last year, he won a classified allowance by 7 3/4 lengths, recording a lifetime-best Beyer Speed Figure of 107. In his only start since, he finished eighth in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth.

has not run since finishing second in the Hawthorne Derby last October. Charles Bettis trained him then; Kiaran McLaughlin trains him now.

"We will probably need a run," McLaughlin said. "It's been a long time, he's coming off knee surgery, and it looks like a tough spot. He is a nice horse who has trained well."

Chilly Rooster upset the Grade 3 Fort Marcy at 32-1 in April, but has been beaten twice since. Pisces last won in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap in 2002 via disqualification.