08/06/2002 11:00PM

Watch maiden Le Notre in Sapling


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Patrick Biancone has already taken New York by storm this summer with 2-year-olds Zavata and Whywhywhy, who have combined for three graded stakes victories at Belmont and Saratoga, and he brings another juvenile from his arsenal - Le Notre - to Monmouth this Saturday for the Grade 3, $100,000 Sapling.

Le Notre enters the Sapling as a maiden, coming off a second-place finish in his debut July 24 at Saratoga. The move is not unprecedented for Biancone. Zavata finished second in the Three Chimneys Juvenile at Churchill Downs May 4 in his first start. Zavata has gone on to win his maiden and the Grade 3 Tremont en route to being widely considered as the East's divisional leader. Whywhywhy, Biancone's other top gun, has won the Grade 3 Flash and Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga.

Biancone has not started a horse at Monmouth this meet, but he said Le Notre is running here in part because he wants to keep his 2-year-olds apart from one another.

"I was disappointed that he was beaten first time out," Biancone said from Saratoga, adding that since Le Notre is a maiden, "he gets five pounds in the Sapling, so I get a little edge there."

While Le Notre is only a maiden, he'll be one to watch in a probable seven- to eight-horse field that lacks a true standout. Also expected for the race are Banshee King, Down Play, Farno, Max a Million, Valid Video, and Boston Park. Awesome of Course is a possibility.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Sapling eight times since 1987, and this year he saddles Boston Park. Boston Park won his maiden in his second career start, won an allowance, and then ran fifth in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor July 7. All his starts have come at Churchill Downs.

Farno, Down Play, and Max a Million ran first, second, and third in the Sapling prep, the $50,000 Tyro Stakes July 20.

Clearly a Queen fractures sesamoid

Clearly a Queen, who won the Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap last Sunday, was found to have suffered a fractured left sesamoid after the race, trainer Terri Pompay said Wednesday.

Pompay said the racing future of 5-year-old Clearly a Queen is undecided at this point. Pompay and owner John Franks will discuss the plans after gauging the surgical options in the next few days, she said.

The Eatontown, in which Clearly a Queen was very tough in holding off Laurica by a nose, was her second consecutive Grade 3 victory on the turf here and third win in four starts this meet. Pompay said she came back to the barn in good shape Sunday and cooled out well, but the injury was noticed Monday morning and X-rays confirmed the injury.

"We'll talk to the surgeon in the next few days and decide what our options are going to be," Pompay said. "If there's any risk to her with surgery, we won't take it because she has value as a broodmare."

Clearly a Queen is the star of Pompay's barn and she said she was shocked when she heard the diagnosis. "It was very disappointing," she said. "I went from being on top of the world to a huge low."

Advancing Storm preps brilliantly for Sorority

Ronny Werner said before the first race Wednesday that Advancing Storm, one of his top 2-year-old fillies, needed a solid prep race for the Grade 3 Sorority here Aug. 25. Advancing Storm got just that, earning her way to the Sorority with a 4 3/4-length win in her second career start.

Advancing Storm, a $650,000 yearling purchase, had been sidelined since a nose defeat in her debut April 18 at Keeneland. Werner said she battled some foot problems, but was clearly over them with her victory Wednesday as the 1-2 favorite in a field of seven. The Sorority had been in the plans for Advancing Storm for months, Werner said.

Breaking to the front and then racing on the outside of Angel's Dowry, Advancing Storm went through fractions of 22.24 seconds and 45.83 before opening up slightly turning for home. After switching leads under jockey Tommy Turner, she kicked clear at the eighth pole and pulled away strongly to cross the wire in 58.47 for five furlongs.

"That's what she needed," Werner said after the race. "I was very pleased with the way she went over the track. She's gotten through a few problems and everything looks good now. She needed this race to go on to the Sorority."

In the fifth race, the second division of the 2-year-old filly maiden race, the Ben Perkins Jr.-trained Wild Snitch was an impressive debut winner and established herself as a strong Sorority candidate. She sat off the pace and then easily went by pacesetter Lindamademedoit turning for home, and crossed the wire in a quick 58.18 for five furlongs. A homebred owned by New Farm, 1-2 favorite Wild Snitch was in hand down the stretch under Eibar Coa, even with moderate pressure coming from runner-up J's Crafty Cat, who was 2 3/4 lengths back.

Cruz X-rays negative after spill

Carlos Cruz, who took a spill aboard Ana's Rainbow in the eighth race Sunday, took off his mounts Wednesday but was to resume riding Thursday, according to his agent, Danny Mellul.

Cruz was taken to Monmouth Medical Center following the spill, but X-rays were negative. Mellul said Cruz only had a sore lower back.

* Just Le Facts, a 3-year-old trained by Dennis Manning, leads a field of six in Friday's featured ninth race, a two-other-than allowance at six furlongs. Since trying turf in the Crank It Up Stakes June 9, Just Le Facts has undergone successful throat surgery and has worked very well leading up to his second start of the year. As a 2-year-old, Just Le Facts ran second in two stakes.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman