06/02/2003 11:00PM

Trebizond primed for peak effort


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Kathy Neilson holds a strong hand for Thursday's $100,000 Meadow Brook Stakes, a steeplechase at Belmont Park.

Neilson will saddle the uncoupled entry of Trebizond, who won the Grade 1 Hard Scuffle in his last start over jumps, and the improving Mr Perkolater.

Eleven horses were entered in the 2 1/2-mile race, which features 15 jumps and will be run as the final race on the card.

Trebizond, the likely favorite, won the Hard Scuffle at Churchill Downs on May 1 by a half-length over Naughty Prince, who also is entered in the Grade 1 Meadow Brook.

Neilson wanted Trebizond to have a solid workout for the Meadow Brook so she ran the 7-year-old in a seven-furlong training flat race at Fair Hill, Md., on May 26. Trebizond won the race, which was run over soft ground, conditions that are probable for the Meadow Brook.

Tom Foley, who rides Trebizond in the Meadow Brook, was aboard in the training race.

"I told Tom to win if he could, but not to hit [Trebizond] behind the saddle," said Neilson. "It was a nice workout."

Mr Perkolater isn't nearly as accomplished as Trebizond, but he has run well in the few starts he has made against graded competition.

"Trebizond loves running at [Thoroughbred] tracks, but Mr Perkolater hasn't done that yet," Neilson said. "He's been running on undulating ground. If he likes Belmont, he will be tough."

Neilson adds blinkers on Mr Perkolater.

Neilson's sister, Sanna Hendriks, entered the promising Senor Melchor, who is 3 for 3 over jumps. This will be Senor Melchor's stakes debut.

"This is a major step up, but I wouldn't be surprised if he ran well," said Hendriks, who won the 2001 Meadow Brook with Praise the Prince.

Fighting Star, third in the Hard Scuffle, was running dismally in flat races last year at Saratoga. Since switching to jumps, Fighting Star has won 2 of 4 starts.