06/02/2003 12:00AM

Strong cast of seven to enter Acorn


ELMONT, N.Y. - Awesome Humor isn't coming, but the field for Friday's Grade 1 Acorn is quite impressive nonetheless.

A field of seven was expected to be entered Tuesday for Friday's $250,000 Acorn, the highlight of a 10-race card, which will be televised live on ESPN (4:30-6 p.m. eastern). The field for the one-mile Acorn will include Kentucky Oaks winner Bird Town, defending 2-year-old champion Storm Flag Flying, graded stakes winners Final Round, House Party, Randaroo, and Lady Tak, plus restricted stakes winner Kitty Knight.

Bird Town is coming off an upset victory in the Oaks in which she stumbled at the start, found herself farther off the pace than she had ever been before, then flew past the rest of the field to win by 3 1/4 lengths. It was the first Oaks victory for trainer Nick Zito and owner Marylou Whitney.

Though cutting back to a mile from the nine-furlong Oaks isn't ideal, Zito believes it better to do that than wait for the nine-furlong Mother Goose Stakes on June 28.

"Even though the Acorn is going to be tough with the 2-year-old champion and other nice fillies, it would be two months to the Mother Goose and that's probably a tougher task training-wise for her than it is this mile race," Zito said. "Whatever happens, I know she'll run her good race. It gives me a chance to set her up for the summer. The race I really want to win is the Alabama. If I can win that race that will make the whole summer."

Lady Tak, who finished sixth as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks, worked four furlongs in 46.60 seconds Monday at Churchill Downs. It was the second fastest of 42 at the distance. She was expected to ship to New York on Wednesday.

Lady Tak won her first five starts - including the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks - before finishing second in the Ashland and sixth in the Kentucky Oaks.

"I think her getting beat made her more aggressive training," Asmussen said Monday from Kentucky. "The Oaks itself is a race she ran sixth in, and all we worried about is how she went back to the track. What we do see off her loss is she has been more aggressive training than she was previous to her losing. Her confidence has been shaken a bit; that is an issue and we are concerned with it."

Trainer Allen Jerkens worked his pair of Acorn hopefuls, House Party and Kitty Knight, Monday morning at Belmont. Kitty Knight, working before the break went seven furlongs in 1:27.01 under Jean-Luc Samyn. After the break, House Party, winner of the Nassau County Stakes in her last start, zipped the same distance in 1:26.52.

"She worked the way we wanted her to," Jerkens said of Kitty Knight. "[House Party] worked very well; I hope not too well. I would have preferred it not as fast, but I think the track was playing faster after the harrowing break. She didn't come back blowing."

NYRA adds reserved seats for Belmont

The New York Racing Association is adding 1,500 additional reserved bleacher seats at the west end of the grandstand for Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

The seats, priced at $10 each go on sale Wednesday at the track and by phone. At Belmont, the seats will be on sale at the third-floor reserved seats annex behind section P at the far wall.

Tickets can be purchased by phone with a VISA card by calling (516) 488-6000 and asking for the reserved seat department.

* There will be a daily double linking Friday's Acorn to Saturday's Belmont Stakes. The handle on last year's Acorn-Belmont double was $332,227 and the payoff was $348.50 for those who came up with You and Sarava.

Fashion field small but select

A field of five or six juvenile fillies is expected to run in Thursday's Grade 3, $100,000 Fashion Stakes at five furlongs. Wacky Patty, a California-based filly would be the favorite if she comes, but trainer Jim Chapman on Tuesday said he is leaning toward staying at home to run in Sunday's Cinderella Stakes at Hollywood Park.

If Wacky Patty doesn't come, the Fashion figures to come down between impressive maiden winners Renaissance Lady and Bikini Wiggle. Others pointing to the race are Barnsby, I'vegotthemusicinme, and Outstanding Lady.

* Penny Chenery, the owner of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, will answer questions in the NYRA.com guest forum this week. Fans may post questions on NYRA.com until Thursday at 2 p.m. Chenery's responses will be posted soon thereafter.

* Jockey Luis Chavez on Monday began serving 20 days worth of careless riding suspensions after his appeals of the suspensions were denied. Chavez, who recently lost his apprentice status, is eligible to ride again June 22.

Pick six carryover Wednesday

A $49,892 carryover awaits fans on Wednesday, the last card this week on which there isn't a stakes race. Two of the races in the pick six sequence, the sixth and the eighth, are carded for the turf and there is rain in the forecast.

The sixth race is a second-level allowance race for New York-breds at 1 1/16 miles on the Widener turf.

Ten drew into the main body of the race. If the race remains on the grass, Quantum Merit, who finished a solid second in an open company race in his last start, is a major threat. Another contender is Foreverness, who is 2 for 2 over Belmont's turf and will be ridden by Jerry Bailey.

The eighth, a first-level allowance race for fillies and mares at one mile on the Widener course, has 10 runners in the main body.

Trainer Christophe Clement, who won Saturday's Sheepshead Bay with Mariensky, looks like he has the one to be beat in Cozy Maria. Cozy Maria, who raced in stakes company last year in Europe, makes her first start since July, when she was narrowly defeated by Fraulein in a small stakes at Ascot. Later in the year, Fraulein won the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor at Woodbine.

Betty's Wish, trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by Bailey, has yet to run on the grass but does have wet-track experience, which is good to know if the race is switched to the dirt because of the weather. Betty's Wish easily won her career debut over a track labeled good at Turfway Park in March.

Field of 11 enters Meadow Brook 'Chase

Entries were drawn Monday for Thursday's $100,000 Meadow Brook steeplechase. Eleven jumpers were entered in the 2 1/2-mile race, which consists of 15 fences. The field, with riders and in post position order is: Naughty Prince (David Bentley); Sham Aciss (Gus Brown); Understood (Chip Miller); Trebizond (Tom Foley); Preemptive Strike (Robert Walsh); Senor Melchor (Jodi Petty); Fighting Star (Robert Massey); Hotspur (Matt McCarron); Mr. Perkolater (Michael Traurig); Coal Dust (Cyril Murphy); and Blasphemous (Diana Gillam).

The likely favorite is Trebizond, who won the Grade 1 Hard Scuffle at Churchill Downs on May 1, the first leg of the steeplechase triple crown. Trebizond, trained by Kathy Neilson, won a flat race at Fair Hill, Md. on Memorial Day as a tune-up for the Meadow Brook.

The Meadow Brook is usually the final leg of the steeplechase triple, but there was no triple this year because the middle leg, the Joe Aitcheson at Pimlico, was canceled on two occasions because of bad weather.

Neilson's younger sister, Sanna Hendriks, will saddle Senor Melchor, who is undefeated in three starts over jumps. Hendriks's husband, Ricky, entered Naughty Prince, who finished second in the Hard Scuffle.

"It's quite fun to compete together because when things are going badly for me, I have someone else to root for," Sanna Hendriks said.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson