08/25/2009 12:00AM

Tarrant, Alexander square off smiling


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainers Amy Tarrant and Bruce Alexander have a friendly rivalry underway at Monmouth Park.

Neither will catch Bruce Levine, who holds a commanding lead in the quest for a second straight Monmouth training title. Further down the list, Tarrant and Alexander are neck and neck. At the end of last week, Alexander was 11th in the standings and held a 14-12 lead in wins.

"We have this little rivalry going and it's been fun," Tarrant said.

The gap could narrow or expand Thursday as both have a solid contender in the day's $42,000 feature, a second-level $32,000 claimer on the turf at 1 1/16 miles.

Alexander will send out Liquid Amber, taking a class-drop back to the level he defeated earlier in the meet.

B B Frank is on a nice run for Tarrant since making the switch to grass for his last three races.

Add in Little Dovefeather, claimed two starts back by Patricia Farro from Alexander, and you have a highly competitive contest.

This is not precisely the race Tarrant wanted. She was hoping for another $30,000-$35,000 claimer, the level at which B B Frank has a win and close-up third in two tries at the meet. With all the rain this summer diminishing grass opportunities, and the Monmouth season heading toward the end-of-September finish, there aren't a lot of spots left.

"There aren't a lot of choices for your horses at this time of the meet," Tarrant said. "This race is coming up a tough one."

Leading rider Elvis Trujillo will be aboard the 4-year-old gelding who should show good speed from the rail. Tarrant, never a fan of post 1, hopes for the best with the horse, who she claimed for $62,500 at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 2, 2008.

"The problem is you have to break sharp or you wind up behind everybody," Tarrant said. "And you have to get a little away from the rail so you're not trapped there."

Liquid Amber has a history of Monmouth turf success, going 6-1-1 in 12 tries. He had no late response most recently when bumped up to a third-level optional claimer, running for a $70,000 claiming price. The price is more than cut in half for this spot, as Liquid Amber is in for $32,000.