10/25/2006 11:00PM

Turf rivals meet for second time


Talented 3-year-old turf runners Rock Lobster and Amigoni will renew their rivalry in Saturday's $100,000 Japan Racing Association Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Laurel Park.

In their only previous meeting, in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga on Sept. 3, Rock Lobster got up to win by a neck despite having to steady and alter course.

He will be reunited with jockey Joe Rocco Jr., who rode him to victory in the Woodlawn at Pimlico in early May.

"He really relaxed that day and made a strong run down the lane," Rocco said of the Woodlawn. "He ran a similar race at Saratoga in a tough race. If we can get him to do that Saturday he will be tough."

Amigoni was up close for the first mile of the 1 3/16-mile Saranac before fading to eighth as the 2-1 favorite. He has been freshened since then by trainer Graham Motion and shows two bullet five-furlong workouts since late September.

A Group 3 winner in Ireland last season, Amigoni's most impressive race in four starts since arriving in the United States came when he finished third in the Grade 2 American Derby at Arlington Park in July.

Rock Lobster, a two-time stakes winner this year, most recently endured a poor start and a troubled trip while facing older horses for the first time in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs. He has since worked well over the Tapeta artificial surface at trainer Michael Dickinson's farm.

Neither Motion nor Dickinson show a strong win percentage with grass horses returning from a short layoff in stakes contested at distances of one mile to 1 1/8 miles. In the past two years, Motion is only 3 for 36 and Dickinson 1 for 15 under those conditions.

The viable alternative in the Japan Racing Association is Silent Roar. Trained by Michael Moran, Silent Roar is 3 for 6 on grass and comes off the best performance of his career, a victory in the Paterson at the Meadowlands three weeks ago.

Ah Day has won six races and earned $408,310 this year. He is better on dirt, but he ran well in his only try on turf, missing by a head in the restricted Humphrey Finney in September.

One of the horses Ah Day finished ahead of in the Finney, Two Terms, is also entered. Two Terms shortens up a half-furlong after being up close at the stretch call of the 1 1/8-mile Maryland Million Turf two weeks ago.

Sir Classic Chris regained his sharp form when he took an off-the-turf optional claimer last time out. This spring, Sir Classic Chris won back-to-back starts on grass before being outclassed in a pair of Grade 2 stakes and apparently disliking soft turf at Delaware Park. He fits much better in this spot.