01/13/2005 1:00AM

Tidal Wave a threat up front


Tidal Wave, a 5-year-old with 25 lifetime starts, has only run once in a stakes, finishing third in a $35,000 sprint at Suffolk Downs in January 2003.

Although Tidal Wave's credentials are modest compared to some of his competitors' in Saturday's $50,000 Native Dancer at Pimlico, he does possess one important quality the others lack.

As the lone speed in a small field of older horses, Tidal Wave is a big threat to steal the 1 1/16-mile Native Dancer on the front end. Listed at 8-1 on the track's morning line, Tidal Wave is also a tempting play for value-oriented handicappers.

Trained by Tom Greene, Tidal Wave returned from a three-month layoff to easily win a two-turn allowance at Charles Town on New Year's Day, earning a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

Travis Dunkelberger, who is 2 for 2 with Tidal Wave since May, has retained the mount.

The two most classy runners in the six-horse Native Dancer are Irish Colony and Last Intention.

Irish Colony, the 124-pound highweight, has posted Beyers from 99 to 101 in each of his last four starts, including a victory in the Charles Hadry on Nov. 20.

"I don't like the fact that there isn't much speed in here and we are on the outside," said Steve Hamilton, who rides Irish Colony, the 7-5 morning-line favorite, from post 6. "He doesn't have any early lick to get over and clear anybody, so you have to take him back and save ground. It will be interesting to see how slow Travis can get Tidal Wave to go; he is the one to catch."

Last Intention will be making his first start since finishing third in the Hadry, beaten 2 1/4 lengths. His best Beyers, including a 106 in his victory in the Hail Emperor in November 2003, stamp Last Intention as a contender in this group.

Foufa's Warrior throws in a big effort on occasion, including a stakes win last August, when he defeated Irish Colony by 9 1/4 lengths.