09/04/2003 11:00PM

Turf sprinters stick together


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Tangier Sound and Melody of Colors resume their lively rivalry Sunday afternoon at Monmouth Park in the $50,000 Incredible Revenge Stakes.

The two fillies have emerged as the local queens of the five-furlong turf sprints.

"The last two years, we've wound up in many of the same races," said Jim Ryerson who trains Tangier Sound. "Melody of Colors is a nice filly and there aren't a lot of these spots. It's hard to not end up together."

Tangier Sound has developed into a consistent runner this year with 3 wins in 5 starts. Better gate manners helped produce improved results.

"She's a better gate horse than she was last year, which has really helped her," Ryerson said. "She had a couple of instances last year where she didn't get away good. When she gets away good, she's very fast away from there."

Tangier Sound looks to stretch her winning streak to three after posting victories in the Jenny Wade Handicap at Penn National and the Klassy Briefcase Stakes at Monmouth, in which she beat Melody of Colors by 4 1/4 lengths.

The two fillies have contrasting styles. Tangier Sound runs best when she dictates the pace, as in the Klassy Briefcase. She took command in the 21.60-second opening quarter and steadily lengthened her advantage.

Speed is usually a powerful advantage in a five-furlong sprint.

"We have a little more speed and that helps you," Ryerson said. "Melody had been running well from off the pace. If somebody softens us up, she has an advantage. But then, it's not easy to soften us up."

When nobody else tries for the lead, as in the Klassy Briefcase, Tangier Sound is tough to catch.

"I don't think anybody wants to run with us," Ryerson said. "I think we make it hard for them to win if they do. Then again, they can't let us go."

Melody of Colors probably won't be the one pressing Tangier Sound. She has settled into a closing style this year and figures to come from off the pace.

It was a different story last year when they first met in the Candy Eclair Stakes at Monmouth. Melody of Colors set the pace until the final jumps when Tangier Sound poked her head in front.

Melody of Colors has won 3 of 8 in 2003, including an allowance win at Monmouth on Aug. 27. The short turnaround is a concern for trainer Tim Hills.

"She's running back quick but she's doing real well," Hills said. "She's a real tough filly and in this category you've got to go when the going is good. I know it will be a competitive race. It always is."

Hills sees two advantages for Melody of Colors in this upcoming battle with Tangier Sound: a turf course that might be soft after recent rains, which could favor closers, and Joe Bravo in the irons.

"He does such a good job of winging it depending on how the race unfolds," Hills said. "I've got a lot of confidence in him riding it the way it shapes up."

Go Go Baby Go, Umpateedle, Misty Sixes. The Candy Queen, Multiple Wins, Miss Gazon, Boozin' Susan, Forest Heiress, and Hawley Lake complete the field.

Jersey Giant possible for Meadowlands Cup

Jersey Giant, a game third in the Iselin Handicap, could wind up in the Grade 2, $400,000 Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 4.

Ryerson has a number of options under consideration, including a restricted New Jersey-bred race on Sept. 20.

"We're still undecided with Jersey Giant," Ryerson said. "We're going to breeze him Saturday. He's training well. I don't think he's a certainty for the all-Jersey-bred race."

As for the Meadowlands Cup, Ryerson said, "It's possible. We'll see what develops with that."

* Trainers Henry Cochran and Phil Marino are preparing to ship out while Tom Skiffington and Joe Orseno are sending in divisions. The barn area remains open at Monmouth until Dec. 1.

* Monmouth called off turf racing Saturday due to the recent rainy stretch. That will move the featured $50,000 Lighthouse Stakes onto the main track. The track remains hopeful of getting back on the grass by Sunday.

* Matt Garcia, the new first-call rider for leading owner Michael Gill, scored with his first two mounts on the Friday card: Spouse ($5.20) in the first and Euroclydon ($10.40) in the third.