08/30/2006 11:00PM

Veteran still has what it takes

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Horsephotos
Miesque's Approval wins the Firecracker BC at Churchill Downs in his last race.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Miesque's Approval looks to continue a remarkable revival Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Red Bank Stakes at one mile on the turf at Monmouth Park.

A 7-year-old horse seemingly in decline when dropped into claiming races last fall, Miesque's Approval has won three stakes since Marty Wolfson took over the training from Bill Mott.

Miesque's Approval won Grade 2 stakes in his last two races: the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland, where he beat Breeders' Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller by a nose, and the Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on July 1.

The Red Bank fit Wolfson's longer-range plans for the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 7.

"Timing-wise, I needed something before Keeneland," Wolfson said from Florida. "I was going for the Kelso, but that was too close. I needed something in between. I like this race because I won it with Pavillon in 2001."

The Grade 2 Kelso is Sept. 30 at Belmont Park.

As for the Breeders' Cup, Wolfson said, "Possibly. I've just been going one race at time with this horse."

Wolfson's wife, Karla, will be at Monmouth to saddle Miesque's Approval, assuming he gets to run.

With Tropical Storm Ernesto bearing down on the Mid-Atlantic region, the race could wind up off the turf, with heavy rain in the forecast. Wolfson said Miesque's Approval would be scratched in the event of a surface shift.

Norman Pointer plans to run Hotstufanthensome, regardless of surface. "We're going to run - rain, mud, muck or blood," the trainer said. "We're going to be there on Saturday."

If the race shifts to the main track, Hotstufanthensome would make his dirt debut for Pointer. A 6-year-old gelding, he has run exclusively on turf since joining the Pointer barn following a private sale in the spring of 2004, a span of 21 straight grass races that includes Grade 3 victories in the 2005 Cliff Hanger at the Meadowlands and 2006 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park.

He suffered narrow loses in two Monmouth stakes this summer to quality opponents. Hotstufanthensome grudgingly yielded to Ashkal Way by a half-length in the Elkwood Stakes.

Ashkal Way's next two races were Grade 2 stakes at Saratoga, where he ran second in the Fourstardave before winning the Bernard Baruch Handicap last weekend.

Three Valleys, a Group 1 winner in England, beat Hotstufanthensome by a neck in the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes on Aug. 6.

"We're coming for the money," Pointer said Thursday morning before Hotstufanthensome turned in another strong gallop in preparation for the race. "He's as fit as he's been all summer."

Completing the field are Touched by Madness, Tune of the Spirit, Key Event, Senor Swinger, Pulpit Talk, and Patrol.

Calabria Bella, Phish, Halos Sailing Sain, and Miracle Man were entered for the main track only.

Fabulous Strike heads City Zip

Fabulous Strike, a winner of four of five races this season, tops a very competitive field in the six-furlong, $100,000 City Zip Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday. His lone loss came in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup Stakes at Belmont Park.

Fabulous Strike, trained by Todd Beattie, will be making his first start since winning Belmont's Ziggy's Boy Stakes on July 7.

"He got a little bit sick after that race, and we lost about a week with all the heat," Beattie said. "I gave him plenty of time and was extremely careful with him. He's coming into it extremely well."

The field includes He's Got Grit, winner of Monmouth's Grade 3 Sapling Stakes last season, and Podgy, a winner of two of his last three here.