06/20/2002 11:00PM

Try to catch Emergency Status

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - In the Grade 3, $100,000 Jersey Derby, Emergency Status was overlooked at 55-1 but wired the field for his first graded-stakes win. In Sunday's $50,000 Choice Stakes at Monmouth Park, however, there will be a bull's-eye on the back of Emergency Status's jockey, Jose Ferrer.

Each of the other eight 3-year-olds entered in the nine-furlong turf race will be gunning for Emergency Status, but the question remains: Who, if anyone can, will try and keep up with Emergency Status on the front end?

Trainer Derek Ryan has left no room for interpretation with his prepared orders for Ferrer come race day. Emergency Status's best races have come on the lead and those tactics will be employed on Sunday.

"He'll go right to the lead," Ryan said. "They'll have him to catch again."

The three finishers behind Emergency Status in the May 27 Jersey Derby are seeking to turn the tables on him in the Choice Stakes, carded as the fifth race. Kris's Prayer, trained by Teresa Pompay, ran a huge race in the Jersey Derby, breaking dead last and making a late run to finish second, three lengths back of the winner. He entered the Jersey Derby off a maiden win and ran very well with the huge jump up in class.

"He took himself out of the race early on and he had never done that before," Pompay said. "I thought he had hurt himself. But he made a huge run and ran very well."

Rapadash, an Irish-bred trained by Tom Skiffington, made his first turf start in this country in the Jersey Derby after two main track sprints and was beaten only a neck for second. He had made two turf starts in Europe as a 2-year-old. He, along with Emergency Status, were entered in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont last Saturday but scratched when the turf course came up soft.

Trainer Phil Oliver said Touring England had a rough trip in his fourth-place finish in the Jersey Derby. Touring England will be making his third start for Oliver after being purchased and moved from the barn of Julio Canani in California.

All three finishers behind Emergency Status in the Jersey Derby have done their best work from off the pace, which still leaves Emergency Status without a true challenger on the front end. Of the other horses entered, first-time turf starters Capture the Silver and R B's Boy are coming out of shorter main track races and may attempt to go to the lead.

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