08/04/2008 12:00AM

Two in the middle bear watching


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Mannington and Township Cat, the two 3-year-olds in race, should play prominent roles Wednesday in the $41,000 second-level allowance feature at Monmouth Park.

The six-furlong race drew a field of nine, with Mannington and Township Cat right in the middle in posts 4 and 5.

After winning a first-level allowance here for trainer Terri Pompay early in the meet, Mannington picked up a pair of fourths in Monmouth 3-year-old stakes: the Rumson on a muddy track and the Anderson Fowler on the turf.

Pompay claimed the horse for $32,000 at Calder in December and has already won three times with the acquisition.

"He's coming up to this spot great and he's a really cool horse," Pompay said. "He's built like a chunky Quarter Horse, and he's all personality.

"We've had a lot of fun with him because we've moved him up and he's done well. Now he's a two-other-than, and it gets a little tougher. We picked off a few easier spots with him in the beginning."

Daniel Centeno has the return call.

Township Cat, a New Farm homebred trained by Ben Perkins Jr., has also been on a good run, winning two allowance races against statebreds in his last three starts.

Having exhausted his allowance conditions against statebreds, Township Cat now steps out against open company after a freshening since his last race on June 15.

"He had the three statebred races right in a row," Perkins said. "We figured it would be a good time to give him a couple of extra weeks. He's had three pretty solid starts already at the meet, and we wanted to let him get himself together when you have to start going against open company."

That is always a challenging transition.

"We'll see where he settles in," Perkins said. "Some can compete. Some need to go into claimers."

Since his last race, Township Cat shows a string of very slow works, with his latest drill a leisurely four furlongs in 53 seconds on Saturday, the slowest of 72 breezes at the distance.

"We haven't been working him too fast," Perkins said. "He's been running, and he's pretty fit. He's not a big horse, so we keep him galloping."

Eddie Castro will ride.

Rabatash is coming off the turf for trainer Barclay Tagg, having run sixth most recently in Monmouth's John McSorley Stakes. The 4-year-old gelding will reunite with leading rider Jose Lezcano and run for the first time in blinkers.

Completing the field are Whiskey Lit, General Perfect, Methodtomymadness, First Degree, Boss Zach, and Baby Rusch.