10/30/2004 12:00AM

Smart N Classy can handle dirt or turf


A forecast that calls for thunderstorms casts doubt on whether Tuesday's feature race at The Meadowlands, a third-level allowance for fillies and mares with a $45,000 claiming option, will remain on the turf or be moved to the main track.

Regardless of the surface, the 4-year-old Smart N Classy appears well-equipped to handle it.

Two starts ago, Smart N Classy won a second-level allowance over "good" turf, her first win in five starts on grass. During the summer at Monmouth Park, Smart N Classy won a sprint over a sloppy track and finished a solid second in a statebred stakes moved from the turf to the main track. The Jersey-bred stakes was at one mile, the same distance as Tuesday's optional claimer.

The other horse who seems best suited to handle either turf or dirt is Tazotee, who returns from a seven-week freshening. Although winless in five starts this year, Tazotee came close to her career-best Beyer Speed Figure with an 87 when she ran second, beaten a neck at 66-1, under these same conditions going 1 1/16 miles on turf in July. Her last three starts, all in races transferred from turf to dirt, include a second and third at this class level.

If the race remains on the grass, Bitterroot River is a big threat. In her last six starts on the turf, dating back to February at Gulfstream Park, the 4-year-old Bitterroot River has posted Beyers between 82 and 89 while recording two wins and two seconds. She's likely to move forward making the second start of her form cycle.

On dirt, Lavender Baby becomes dangerous. A 5-year-old owned by Michael Gill, Lavender Baby has two wins and a second against similar competition at Monmouth and Lone Star Park in her last five starts. She will run for the $45,000 claiming price, the first time she has run for a tag since she was claimed for $30,000 at Fair Grounds in March.