08/25/2010 12:33PM

Soda Pop Kid goes for third win of meet in sprint feature

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OCEANPORT, N.J. – Soda Pop Kid settled in nicely at Monmouth Park this summer.

A 5-year-old gelding trained by Bruce Levine, Soda Pop Kid tries to extend his unbeaten streak at the meet to three on Friday in the featured 10th race, a third-level optional $62,500 claimer at six furlongs.

With the early scratch of Golden Spikes, Soda Pop Kid gets the rail against seven rivals. He also has a stablemate, Independence War, running as an uncoupled betting interest.

Soda Pop Kid, a 10-time winner, appears in the best form of his career. Levine attributes that to good living on the Jersey Shore.

“He’s doing good, and it seems he likes the track,” Levine said.

Soda Pop Kid is 2 for 2 at the meet. After taking a second-level allowance on July 17, Soda Pop Kid came right back to knock off the third-level condition on Aug. 7. He is in for the claiming tag Friday, giving him another shot at several of the horses he beat last time.

Soda Pop Kid earned a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure in his latest victory.

“That was a pretty good three-other than,” Levine said. “The two-other than, I thought he would win. He was best in that race. The last race, he really ran good. I was impressed.”

The high purses at Monmouth through Labor Day are a factor in Soda Pop Kid wheeling back in less than three weeks for Friday’s race, worth $84,000.

“If they didn’t have these purses, I might give him another week or two,” Levine said. “He’s certainly doing good enough to run.”

Soda Pop Kid is versatile enough for Eibar Coa to guide him to decent early position despite the inside slot.

“It doesn’t really matter where he starts,” Levine said.

Independence War gives Levine a capable backup. A third-level allowance winner at Philadelphia Park on June 28, Independence War has spent most of the season as a steady and effective runner in starter handicaps in New York.

“He’s like iron,” Levine said. “He’s a hard-knocking horse and it gives us two in the race. I’m lucky to have both of them.”

Nuclear Wayne and Todd Got Even, the second and third finishers in Soda Pop Kid’s latest win, are back for another try.

Nuclear Wayne earned a pair of seconds in his last two while Todd Got Even had a win and a pair of thirds in his last three outings.