07/05/2004 11:00PM

Whirlwind Charlott on rebound

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer John Dowd hopes a return to Monmouth Park and a shift to the turf will revive Whirlwind Charlott in Thursday's featured $41,000 turf allowance sprint.

She made a very favorable impression in two stakes starts here last year at 2. Whirlwind Charlott ran third in the Colleen and second in the Grade 3 Sorority.

Her 3-year-old campaign has been a disappointment, with no victories in five starts.

"We're hoping the turf will move her up," said Dowd.

Whirlwind Charlott makes her turf debut in the five-furlong dash for fillies and mares with Joe Bravo riding.

"She's training very well," said Dowd. "We always thought about grass because she has some turf in her pedigree."

A daughter of Real Quiet, Whirlwind Charlott is out of the Storm Cat mare Dontstealmyroses.

Dowd entered her in Monmouth's Crank It Up Stakes on June 6, a similar turf sprint. The race was shifted to the main track and Whirlwind Charlott ran fourth in the slop, 8 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Forest Music. "She really doesn't handle tracks that are off or sloppy," said Dowd. "She prefers it fast."

Dowd said he hopes Thursday's race starts a new chapter for Whirlwind Charlott. He would ultimately like to see her stretch out in longer races on the grass.

Stars nominated to Long Branch

The Grade 3, $100,000 Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes on July 17 attracted 35 nominations for the traditional prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 8.

No, Smarty Jones wasn't nominated, but many of the leading 3-year-olds made the list.

Nominees include a pair of Grade 1 winners from trainer Nick Zito in Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone and Toyota Blue Grass winner The Cliff's Edge. Trainer Patrick Biancone nominated Lion Heart, runner-up to Smarty Jones in the Kentucky Derby.

The Cliff's Edge will run Sunday in the Dwyer at Belmont. Biancone will work Lion Heart later this week before deciding on his next race.

Other nominees are Eddington, who ran third in the Preakness; Frisky Spider, winner of the Restoration Stakes at Monmouth in his last on the turf; and the Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner Tapit.

Frisky Spider in Choice Saturday

While he appears on the list of Long Branch nominees, Frisky Spider will likely make his next start in the $60,000 Choice Stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday at 1 1/16 miles on the grass. Trainer Bob Durso has not ruled out the Haskell, but for now Frisky Spider remains on the turf. The Restoration was an eye-opener, a powerful front-running victory by Frisky Spider in his turf debut.

Durso reserves the option to switch back to dirt for the Haskell, depending on how that field shapes up.

"We want to see what the Haskell looks like," he said. "There's a chance there, and that's about all, unless it comes up a short field.

I don't think it will, with or without Smarty Jones. I think they'll have a good group of horses"

Vinemeister regains top form

Vinemeister looked liked his old self Sunday, pulling away to an impressive 4 1/4-length win an optional claiming allowance. He ran the six furlongs in 1:09.17.

"He ran one of his good races," said trainer Alan Seewald. "He finished strong, changed leads, and did everything right. Things just went right for him."

It was only his second victory in the 10 starts since he scored an upset last year in Monmouth's Grade 3 Salvator Mile.

"He needed to win a race," said Seewald, "He had not won a race since Florida" - a Gulfstream Park allowance race on Feb. 16."

Vinemeister clearly prefers Monmouth. Four of his six career wins have come here.

Seewald plans to keep the 5-year-old in sprints.

"If I run him in a stakes, it will be a sprint," said Seewald. "I won't go two turns with him."

Seewald has a spot in mind: the $100,000 Teddy Drone on the Haskell undercard.

"That's a long way off," said Seewald. "I don't know if I want to run him in between."

Something Smith suffers seconditis

Speed comes easy and natural to Something Smith.

A New Jersey-bred 4-year-old colt, Something Smith posted a bullet work for five furlongs last Friday, with a 59.20-second move.

Something Smith has run twice this year and finished second both times. He was runner-up to Trueamericanspirit in the John J. Reilly for New Jersey-breds on opening day and got the place money behind Gracious Humor in an open allowance race.

"He's got the speed," said owner Gerry Sleeter. "He just needs a little confidence-builder."

Something Smith is on target for the $60,000 Bernie Dowd Handicap for New Jersey-breds on July 18.