06/21/2005 11:00PM

Stalker role ideal for 'Prayer'


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Jockey Chris DeCarlo hopes to find a target to track in Friday's $44,000 allowance feature at Monmouth Park.

DeCarlo has the mount on Houston's Prayer, a 5-year-old gelding who makes his second start at the meet for trainer Brad Wallace. In his first start at the meet, Houston's Prayer turned in a game effort and missed by a neck May 30.

"He showed more speed than Brad had expected," DeCarlo said. "When I made the lead, he kind of waited a little bit. Hopefully, there will be someone who goes, so I can stalk."

Maddy's Lion could be that target. A 3-year-old colt trained by John Pregman Jr., Maddy's Lion scored a front-running victory over Aqueduct's inner track in the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes in January. He most recently ran fourth in the Maryland Stallion Stakes at Pimlico on April 23. Pregman sharpened Maddy's Lion's speed with a bullet four-furlong work in 46.01 seconds Monday at Belmont.

Houston's Prayer and Maddy's Lion are youngsters compared to Fetch Dinner, who is 9, and Crossing Point, who is 8.

Fetch Dinner makes his 55th start for owner-breeder-trainer Lloyd Lockhart. He has not run since September.

Crossing Point has already won 14 races and $516,999. He was the third-place finisher behind Houston's Prayer last out.

Move to Strike and the Sharon Huston-trained entry of Must Win Soon and Lieutenant Danz complete the field.

Areek back in a stakes

Areek struggled in both stakes attempts last year, finishing sixth in both the Grade 3 Miss Preakness at Pimlico and the Serena's Song at Monmouth.

After a solid start to this campaign, Areek takes another crack at a stakes Saturday in the $65,000 West Long Branch for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

A 4-year-old filly trained by Mark Hennig, Areek is unbeaten in three starts this year. Having exhausted her allowance conditions, a return to stakes becomes the logical next step.

"After last year, we didn't want to go right to Belmont Park to tackle Grade 2's," said assistant trainer Rob Rader. "Hopefully, she'll keep improving, which is what she seems to be doing."

* Albert Vermeire, a long-time owner on the New Jersey circuit, died last week after a prolonged battle with cancer.