07/05/2007 11:00PM

Trainer expects Suzzane to improve


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Suzzane made a very positive impression in her first U.S. start.

A 5-year-old mare bred in Argentina, Suzzane finished third, beaten only a neck, in a seven-horse field in the West Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park on June 10.

Trainer Joe Orseno expects an even better effort here Sunday the $60,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

"It was a great debut," Orseno said. "I knew we were a work or two away from really being ready. It was a short field, so we decided to take advantage of it.

"I think she's going to move way up off that last race. She's doing well. She's adjusted great to the States. We're excited about her."

Orseno purchased the mare privately for Reata's Thoroughbred Racing late last year on trip to Argentina.

Suzzane was unbeaten in four starts in her native country, winning by margins ranging from seven to 14 lengths. She arrived in the U.S. in December and reported to a farm in Ocala, Fla. Orseno first brought her to the racetrack in mid-March at Gulfstream Park.

"I think she's going to get better," Orseno said.

Eddie Castro has the return call as Suzzane faces eight rivals, including Solarana, another import from Argentina.

Solarana, trained by Stanley Hough, was second in the West Long Branch, a head better than Suzzane. It was her best finish in three U.S. starts. Leading rider Joe Bravo picks up the mount as the filly adds blinkers.

Livermore Valley, so effective at Monmouth last summer, looks for her first win in four tries this year.

Trained by Jim Ryerson, Livermore Valley was unbeaten in two Monmouth races last year, both overnight stakes: the Dearly Precious and Mongo Queen. She was also third in the Grade 1 Prioress Breeders' Cup Stakes at Belmont.

Her best efforts this year as a 4-year-old have been a pair of seconds in winter overnight stakes at Aqueduct.

Encaustic tries to climb into top spot

Encaustic hit the board in his last three races, all stakes. The colt tries to nail down the elusive first stakes score in the $60,000 Choice for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Sanction could be developing into a horse for the course. He makes his stakes debut after posting consecutive wins here on the grass.

India coasts home in Miss Liberty

India cruised to an easy comeback victory Friday in the $65,000 Miss Liberty Stakes for fillies and mares.

In her first start since being eased in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn, India ($3) won by 4 1/2 lengths over Altesse under a hand ride through the lane by Bravo.

India had been training at Monmouth since April for the return.

"She hasn't missed a beat here training," said Anthony Sciametta, assistant to Todd Pletcher. "It feels good to have her back running like that."

India, 5, improved her record to 6 for 13.

Victory Pool was third, followed by Wild Wedding and Lady Elaine. The time was 1:39.95 for the one mile and 70 yards.

Picariello ejected after claim dispute

Monmouth management ejected trainer Joseph Picariello from the grounds on Friday.

"He is ejected until further notice," said Dennis Dowd, the track's senior vice president.

Picariello was involved in verbal dispute over a claim on June 30. The following day, Picariello and Kelly Breen, Monmouth's leading trainer the last two seasons, had a physical confrontation following the last race.

Picariello was 0-5-2 from 16 starters at the meet.

Annual backstretch picnic set for Monday

The 16th annual Backstretch Appreciation Day Picnic takes place Monday at noon, rain or shine.

The free picnic is open to all backstretch workers and their families. The all-volunteer, nonprofit event drew more than 2,000 last year to the track's picnic area at the top of the stretch.

Former trainer Danny Perlsweig and stall manager Kevin Weldon serve as co-chairmen of the afternoon, which also includes raffles and contests.