07/05/2005 11:00PM

Wet track a welcome sight for Capeside Lady

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Ryan McAlinden/EQUI-PHOTO
Newly relicensed trainer Juan Serey (center) awaits Wednesday's first race at Monmouth.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - The tropical storm lashing the Gulf Coast will be tracked closely by meteorologists over the next several days. If, as some computer models predict, the storm advances up the East Coast, Monmouth Park could feel the full brunt over the weekend.

That would be welcome news for the Todd Pletcher barn and the mud-loving Capeside Lady in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares.

A 4-year-old filly, Capeside Lady excels on a wet track as evidenced by her off-track victories last summer in the Grade 2 Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks and the Little Silver Stakes.

Capeside Lady can also handle a dry track. Last time out, she was an easy winner of the Monmouth Beach Stakes on a fast strip.

"She came out of that last race well," said assistant trainer Anthony Sciametta. "She's trained well and really breezed well over the track the other day."

Capeside Lady worked four furlongs in 48 seconds Sunday. "All systems are go," Sciametta said. "She's always run well here."

Capeside Lady is unbeaten in three main-track efforts at Monmouth.

La Reason, last year's winner, is also on target for the Molly Pitcher. She finished fourth, beaten only 1 1/4 lengths, last time out in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 18.

"She ran her race there," said trainer David Vance. "She just wasn't quite good enough. It will depend Saturday on how tough they bring them in here. She must like this track, because she did her job pretty good here last year."

Vance is in the process of shipping all his horses from Kentucky to Monmouth for the balance of this meet.

Other likely Molly Pitcher runners, according to stakes coordinator Mike Melendez, include top Canadian mare One for Rose, Emerald Earrings, Pampered Princess, and Bending Strings.

Two thirds in Serey's comeback

Trainer Juan Serey launched his comeback Wednesday at Monmouth with a pair of third-place finishes from three starters.

Serey, who lost his license in 2003 for violations of financial obligations, was starting over at the track where he once won five straight training titles.

Wednesday, he finished third with Heir D' Twine in the first and Takeiteasyedye, the 4-5 favorite, in the fourth. Cypress Cove ran fourth in the third race.

A sweet graded win for Costa

Frankie Costa waited a long time for his first graded stakes winner. The drought ended Monday at Monmouth when Joey P., an unbeaten New Jersey-bred, captured the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Costa, 71, was still basking in the glow of his victory Wednesday morning. A former jockey from Italy who won on his first mount at Gulfstream Park in 1953, Costa now has his sights set on an even loftier goal: the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap, the showcase event of the Monmouth season on Aug. 7.

Before that becomes a possibility, Joey P. will get some well-earned rest. The Jersey Shore was his second race in a six-day span. He came through with a victory in 1:08.30 for the six furlongs, a stakes record, and stretched his winning streak to five.

"I knew he was going to run good," Costa said. "He's a nice horse. I've liked him every time he's run. We'll play it by ear and see how he trains. We'll give him a few days."

Costa said he had a feeling Joey P. could be special the first time he worked him from the starting gate before his 2-year-old debut last year.

"He got left," Costa said. "The exercise boy cracked him once with the stick, and he started running over horses. He moved really quick."

Costa said he wants to stretch Joey P. out for the first time beyond six furlongs.

"If he's training good, the way I like, we'll run him in the Haskell," Costa said. "I don't say we definitely will, but we'll see how he goes."

Park Avenue Ball in shape for his return

Park Avenue Ball is on target for the Grade 3 Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes on July 16, Monmouth's traditional Haskell prep. The winner of the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont last fall, he has not run since finishing second to Scrappy T in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct at the end of April.

Trainer Jim Ryerson has kept Park Avenue Ball fit with a string of six- and seven-furlong works.

"He's got three or four works in him, and we'll look work him five-eighths before the race," Ryerson said.

Goldberg has two good shots in feature

Weather permitting, the Friday Monmouth allowance feature will remain on the turf, and Alan Goldberg has two solid contenders in Babel and Pasketty.

Babel was shuffled back before rallying to get second in his season debut June 3.

Pasketty has the better early speed of the two. He finished fourth in his first race of the year on June 15.