11/07/2006 1:00AM

Silver Prospector fastest, dirt or turf


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A forecast for heavy rain on Wednesday could have an impact on Thursday's $65,000 King Cugat, an overnight stakes for 3-year-olds scheduled for the turf course as race 7. Nine entered the 1 1/16-mile King Cugat, which would become a one-turn mile out of the chute if it is switched to dirt.

Turf or dirt, the one to catch is Silver Prospector. Though his last victory came on turf at the Meadowlands, he is coming off his two fastest races on dirt, each a runner-up finish with a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

"His turf form is not that bad, but I'd love to see it come off," admitted trainer Gary Contessa, who claimed Silver Prospector for $50,000 two back. "He's running no matter what, but I'm certainly in favor of the forecast."

Silver Prospector ran off to a long lead first time off the claim, and finished well clear for second despite weakening late under jockey Eibar Coa.

"Coa kind of sent him," said Contessa. "He'll ride him a lot better the second time."

Besides the probable pacesetter, the three others versatile enough to have won on turf and dirt are Silver Timber, who has won three turf sprints this season; Mr. Zulu, an improving Woodbine shipper; and Gimme Credit, a New York-bred whose five-race win streak began with a sloppy-track maiden race and concluded with overnight stakes wins on turf at Saratoga and Belmont Park.

Gimme Credit's streak ended in the $150,000 Bryan Station at Keeneland last out, but it was a respectable effort in which he ran on well through a fast final quarter-mile to outfinish the first two betting choices for fourth.

"He was pulling real hard. He's much better covered up with a target," explained trainer Tim Hills. "He continued on with good courage, but he didn't have that late punch."

Edgar Prado, 5 for 5 on Gimme Credit, is back aboard.

"I wouldn't mind running in the slop," said Hills. "Soft turf is not ideal, but it seems like he doesn't have to carry his surface around."

Also in the competitive field are Silent Roar, last-out winner of the Paterson; Thunder Pass and Yankee Master, heads apart finishing one-two in a second-level allowance here opening day; and Spider Power, who has banked more than $234,000 this year after picking up a check in five straight graded stakes, beginning with a second in the Hill Prince on soft turf.

Lear Heights completes the field.