08/03/2006 11:00PM

Turf stakes bolster Haskell card


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Two Grade 3 turf stakes, each worth $150,000, top the Haskell Day undercard at Monmouth Park - the Matchmaker for fillies and mares and the Oceanport for 3-year-olds and up.

The Matchmaker will be part of the ESPN live coverage from 5-6 p.m., which includes the Haskell and the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Racetrack.

In addition to the purse, the Matchmaker, at 1 1/8 miles, offers an added bonus to the first three finishers: a stallion breeding to Northern Afleet, Southern Image, or Wildcat Heir courtesy of participating sponsor Taylor Made Farm.

Ready's Gal, winner of the Little Silver Stakes here last summer, looks tough in

the Matchmaker. She won the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in March at this same distance and most recently finished third as the pacesetter in the Miss Liberty Stakes at the Meadowlands.

Ready's Gal, who had been training at Saratoga, recently joined Todd Pletcher's division at Monmouth. She worked a half-mile in 50.80 seconds here on Monday.

"She's a nice filly," said assistant trainer Anthony Sciametta. "She always gives her all."

Prop Me Up, a rallying second-level allowance winner in her turf debut, faces stakes company for the first time.

"She ran a big race last time," said trainer Kelly Breen. "I don't know if it was the grass she really liked or just that she is in good form."

In the 1 1/16-mile Oceanport, Hotstufan-thensome will be out to avenge a narrow loss in this race last year. Hotstufanthensome came charging late most recently to lose by a half-length to Ashkal Way in the Elkwood Stakes.

"The horse that beat him ain't been beat in this country," said trainer Norman Pointer. "That got him tight. That's the race he needed. He's going to run his race."

Top contenders include Icy Atlantic, winner of the Battlefield Stakes at the Meadowlands; Touched by Madness, who took the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park last summer; and Three Valleys, making his season debut. He is 2 for 4 since joining the Bobby Frankel barn after starting his career in Europe.