10/28/2010 1:30PM

Southern Ridge looks to make up for lost time in Big Brown

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OCEANPORT, N.J. – A virus wiped out a promising summer for Southern Ridge.

Looking to make up lost time while also taking advantage of the dwindling number of stakes for 3-year-olds left this season, Southern Ridge faces six rivals Saturday in the $70,000 Big Brown Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Monmouth Park.

This will be only fifth start for Southern Ridge, the most lightly raced colt in field. At the other end of the spectrum, Calvello has already been to the post 21 times.

Southern Ridge has run three times at Monmouth, starting with a third in his debut on May 22. He clearly benefited from the experience, winning next time out while hiking his Beyer Speed Figure from 78 to 95.

He paired that 95 in his following race, third behind Trappe Shot in the Long Branch Stakes. The summer was still young at that point, but Southern Ridge was done.

“He got sick,” said trainer John Forbes. “We said ‘He’s a nice horse. Let’s give him time to recover.’ ”

When Southern Ridge was ready to run, there weren’t a lot of options. Forbes settled on a second-level allowance at Parx Racing, where Southern Ridge got third to Cactus Charlie, whom he meets again in the Big Brown.

Southern Ridge actually took home second money in the comeback, moving up on spot on a disqualification. More importantly, from Forbes’s perspective, Southern Ridge got a badly needed prep.

“We wanted to get a race into Southern Ridge but we sure didn’t lean on him,” Forbes said. “We thought we were running a horse that needed a race. I was surprised he didn’t run a little better. Still in all, he got real tired. He came back blowing hard but he bounced out of it super and he’s tearing the barn down.”

Teaks North comes off the turf for trainer Justin Sallusto. He is 2 for 3 in his last three races, all on grass, including a victory in Monmouth’s Restoration Stakes. He was fifth most recently in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park.

Goombada Guska rallied past his elders for a decisive win in the Charles Hesse III Handicap for New Jersey breds last month.

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito gives Thomas Got Even his first stakes experience in the Big Brown following allowance wins at Suffolk Downs and Delaware Park.