11/04/2004 12:00AM

Well spotted to end 2004 losing streak

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Wimplestiltskin, a horse in search of a niche, makes his 10th straight stakes appearance Saturday night in the $60,000 Rushing Man Stakes for 3-year-olds at The Meadowlands Racetrack.

Wimplestiltskin has done it all this year. He tackled Grade 1 colts, and raced on both coasts, on turf and dirt, and at distances ranging from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.

Through it all, he still hasn't established a preferred distance. Nor has he ever been first under the wire.

Evidence suggests that six furlongs on the main track - the Rushing Man distance - works best for Wimplestiltskin, whose lone win came via disqualification at Santa Anita in January.

"It might be that he is a closing sprinter," said Philadelphia Park-based trainer Eddie Coletti, Jr. "He's doing really well. It would be great to get a win and build his up his confidence."

Coletti got Wimplestiltskin right after his 32-length loss in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. The Everest Stable, which had the horse with trainer Marcelo Polanco in California, opted to keep him on the East Coast.

It looked like a mistake when Wimplestiltskin followed the Haskell with a 24 1/2-length loss in the Pennsylvania Derby.

The outlook brightened last time out in the six-furlong Sonny Hine Stakes in the mud at Pimlico. Wimplestiltskin kicked home alertly to lose by only a nose after trailing by 6 1/2 lengths at the stretch call.

"He didn't handle the off going that well," Coletti said. "When he switched leads, he really gobbled up ground."

It's not clear what the future holds for Wimplestiltskin. He could spend the winter with Coletti or possibly return to California, where he ran second in the Grade 2 Laz Barrera Memorial and third in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap, both at Hollywood Park.

Frisky Spider, Choose, Knight of Darkness, and White Mountain Boy complete the field.

Breeders' Cup scouting trip

The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority took a dozen of its members to Lone Star Park for last Saturday's Breeders' Cup.

Like Lone Star, the NJSEA will be a first-time host when Breeders' Cup comes to Monmouth in 2007.

"We learned a lot of lessons," said Bob Kulina, the NJSEA vice president of Thoroughbred racing. "We learned a lot about seating. We have to make a lot of decisions as to where we go with seating."

Unlike Lone Star, which is surrounded by acres of open land, Monmouth is tightly constrained by railroad tracks and roads. Temporary seats to accommodate a crowd of 50,000 will likely replace popular features like the picnic area at the top of the stretch.

Some changes could be permanent, like replacing park benches with box seats in the apron area in front of the grandstand.

Kulina and staff will soon start evaluating what they consider the most positive aspects of the Lone Star experience.

"It was a working holiday," he said. "We took a lot of pictures and everybody had different thoughts. It was informative because, unlike some other sites, it was exactly a mile oval, which is what we are."