06/28/2005 11:00PM

Silverfoot, off two wins, steps up to U.N.


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Dallas Stewart spent several seasons at Monmouth Park as an assistant to D. Wayne Lukas and is looking forward to a return visit to the Jersey Shore this weekend.

Stewart will bring Silverfoot to the Grade 1, $750,000 United Nations Stakes on Saturday.

The U.N., the premier turf race in New Jersey, tops Monmouth's trio of graded stakes over the holiday weekend.

There are also a pair of Grade 3, $150,000 races here this weekend: the Eatontown Handicap for fillies and mares on the turf on Sunday and the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup for 3-year-old sprinters Monday.

Silverfoot, a 5-year-old gray gelding, carries a two-race winning streak into the U.N. He won an allowance race at Keeneland in his season debut and followed with a win in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs.

"Everything seems to be fine," Stewart said. "He's a very honest horse and he likes the distance."

The Louisville Handicap was at 1 3/8 miles, the same as the U.N.

Silverfoot can handle the distance. Can he cope with the jump in class? He ran an even fifth in his lone Grade 1 appearance, the Sword Dancer at Saratoga last year.

"He's taking a step up from Grade 3 to Grade 1 company," Stewart said. "The horse is doing well and we hope and believe he's up to the challenge."

Other likely U.N. runners include Breeders' Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now, last year's U.N. winner Request for Parole, and Cool Conductor, the upset winner of the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard.

Hennig still hot over Spring House DQ

John Hennig was still steamed over the disqualification of Spring House Saturday in the $500,000 Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware Park.

The top two finishers in the turf stakes for 3-year-olds were both taken down by the stewards.

When the pacesetting Touched by Madness bore out badly into Spring House in deep stretch, Hennig was certain his colt would be awarded the victory.

"I never saw a horse get mugged that hard," he said.

Touched by Madness was disqualified from first to fourth. That was small comfort to Hennig when his horse came down as well.

The stewards, upon review of the stretch run, found Spring House at fault for an earlier bumping incident and disqualified him from second to third.

"We were in full flight," Hennig said of Spring House's move when Touched by Madness started to drift. "[Jockey Aaron Gryder] had a choice of two: go down or go out."

On the positive side. Spring House came out of the roughly run stretch battle in good shape.

"I was very surprised to find no cuts, no bruises," Hennig said. "He's been back to the racetrack and he trained beautifully.

Hennig will point Spring House to the Grade 3, $750,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 16.

Tap Day has been waiting for this

Tap Day ran the race of his life in Monmouth's Frisk Me Now Stakes on May 29.

Tap Day won by 9 1/4 lengths and earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure to easily eclipse his previous best of 98.

The 4-year-old colt is slated to make his next start Saturday in the $70,000 Skip Away Stakes.

"This is the spot we've been aiming for," said Rob Rader, who trains Mark Hennig's New Jersey division. "The timing was good as he likes to have five to six weeks between races. Hopefully, he'll run the way he did last time."

The barn resisted the temptation to tackle a graded stakes following that overpowering victory. Tap Day, who has won 9 of 18 starts, suffered double-digit defeats in his three graded-stakes efforts.

"He seems to like this competition a little better than the Grade 3's," Rader said. "If he could improve a little bit more and be consistent, we could go back and try a graded stakes again. Until he can do it consistently, this is where he needs to stay."

Another dominant win could put Tap Day in line for Monmouth's Grade 3, $250,000 Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap on Aug. 28.

Pickin Laurel on improve

Pickin Laurel has improved her Beyer Figure in each start this season. She will look to push those numbers even higher Friday in the featured $51,000 New Jersey-bred allowance race.

Pickin Laurel won her first two starts of the meet and earned a career-best 77 last time out as she shuffled out of contention before rallying to get third.

Our Deer Lady looks like the main competition. She earned an 86 Beyer in her season-opening victory and ran second most recently.

* Ten-pound apprentice jockey Stacy Podobinski got her second win of the meet, guiding Guess I'm Lucky ($34.60) to an upset victory in the second race Wednesday.