07/05/2001 12:00AM

Tiara finds new home on turf


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The short career of Platinum Tiara has been a roller-coaster ride of sorts for her connections. Yet in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Reeve Schley Jr. Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Monmouth Park's turf course, she has the opportunity to straighten course and capture her first graded stakes.

Platinum Tiara started her career on the dirt, winning a minor stakes at Calder before failing as the favorite in the Grade 2 Alcibiades. She rebounded convincingly in her next start, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, finishing a close second to Caressing despite encountering some trouble. Since that race, though, the Joe Waunsch-trained Platinum Tiara has faced much difficulty in attempting to return to the winner's circle.

After finishing last in two graded stakes, it was discovered that Platinum Tiara had a chemical imbalance. Waunsch needed a spot to get her back on track; the race was the Patricia Stakes on the Hialeah turf, which she won by 1 1/2 lengths.

"I always wanted to see her on the turf," said Waunsch. "She had great turf breeding, but the owner [Robert Murphy] was a little reluctant. She needed a race we thought she could win, and she had worked well on the turf."

In her next turf start, she placed to stablemate Silver Bandana in the Calder Breeders' Cup Handicap on May 26. She shipped to Monmouth five days before running third in the Sands Point at Belmont, which was moved off the turf with heavy rain. She has been stabled here since, preparing for the Reeve Schley, run at 1 1/16 miles. She gains the services of top rider Joe Bravo.

The other starters in the race make up one of the toughest stakes fields this meet. California-based trainer Bobby Frankel, winner of the Grade 1 United Nations here last weekend with Senure, sends out Heads Will Roll. Heads Will Roll was privately bought by Frankel in France, and has since placed twice and showed in three stakes.

Bill Mott and jockey Aaron Gryder combined for last year's Reeve Schley win with Buffalo Berry, and the two return with the lightly raced Honestly Darling. Linda Rice will saddle the undefeated Silver Tornado. Silver Tornado is 3 for 3 on the dirt, and will try the grass for the first time, with jockey Jose Ferrer in the reins. Another major contender is the Mark Casse-trained Dark Ending. She won the Grade 1 Selene at Woodbine on the dirt in her last start.