09/25/2008 12:00AM

Valiancy looks strongest for NATC


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Saturday's card at Monmouth Park offers a couple of six-furlong 2-year-old stakes races that may fly under the radar a bit, but they offer some of the best purses of the meet.

The NATC Futurities both carry purses of $200,000, which is more than any other stakes here outside of the Grade 1 and Grade 2 events, and the Grade 3 Salvator Mile. Contested at six furlongs on the main track, the NATC Futurities are restricted to

2-year-olds sold in 2008 and registered with the National Association of Two-Year-Old Consignors. Sustaining payments must be made on a regular basis before some of the juveniles even begin to breeze.

"I've always wanted to have a starter in this race," said Tim Hills, trainer of Great Patriot, who's in the open division of the NATC. "It's an act of faith keeping up with the payments, but it's worth it when you have a real chance to win it."

Based on his last start, however, Valiancy may have the best chance to win the open division. The son of Tale of the Cat beat maidens in his second start after closing for the place in his debut, finishing behind Flying Pegasus. Flying Pegasus went on to run second in Belmont's Grade 2 Futurity.

Other contenders include Forty Thieves, a debut maiden winner at Delaware; Join in the Dance, who was fourth in the Saratoga Special; Wild Proof, fifth-place finisher in the Sapling; and the Ronny Werner-trained Pray for Action, a close second in his debut.

Werner saddled the winner of the filly division the last time it was run at Monmouth, in 2006, when he scored with Cat on a Cloud. Saturday, he'll have two chances in the filly division, with Scintillation and Trusty Temper.

"I think the distance of the race will help Scintillation," said Werner. "In the shorter races, we've been rushing her up too much. I'm thinking that three-quarters will help. She'll be able to settle early and make her run in the stretch."

Trusty Temper, on the other hand, will be making her run early.

"She's all go, that's for sure," Werner said.

The one to beat, however, appears to be R Betty Graybull. The daughter of Holy Bull comes off a win against New York-bred maidens at Belmont. She was third in her debut, a solid effort considering the fact that she had to steady twice.

Kays and Jays, a narrow winner against maidens on the turf last time, is another strong contender.

First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.