05/25/2007 11:00PM

Winter break over as Tap Day returns


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The $65,000 Frisk Me Now Stakes, the Memorial Day feature at Monmouth Park, includes several big-name horses who are trying to regroup.

The one mile and 70-yard race drew Tap Day, High Cotton and Indy Wind. The Frisk Me Now headlines an 11-race card that gets under way at 12:50 p.m.

The feature offers a fresh start for Tap Day following a disappointing 2006 campaign. Tap Day makes his first start since November.

Expectations were sky high in the Mark Hennig barn following 2005, the breakthrough year for Tap Day. He won the Frisk Me Now by 9 1/4 lengths and was a rallying winner of the Meadowlands Breeders' Cup that fall. One of his best efforts came in a defeat - a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.

He concluded the year a world away, with a 13th-place finish in the Japan Cup.

Then came last year, a 1-for-5 season with only an allowance victory at Belmont on the positive side of the ledger.

"I don't have idea why," said assistant trainer Rob Rader. "You couldn't see it in his training. I can't answer the question. We're hoping a turnout turns him around, because aside from the one win he really wasn't trying last year."

High Cotton, a prominent 3-year-old last season, will be making his second start of the campaign. He got on a roll last year with wins in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico and the Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs, followed by a neck loss in the Ohio Derby.

He has not been the same colt since. He finished the year with a pair of sound defeats in the Travers at Saratoga and the Pegasus Stakes at the Meadowlands.

High Cotton, trained by Todd Pletcher, started this year finishing sixth in an allowance race at Keeneland.

Indy Wind, now 5, is another horse looking to regroup. He made his racing debut and had a pair of dazzling wins here in 2005, but has battled physical issues ever since, limiting him to only 10 career starts. He ran poorly in two races over the winter in Florida, but his owner-trainer, Amy Tarrant, hopes the return to Monmouth, where Indy Wind is 3-1-1 in 5 starts, sparks a turnaround.

"We found out over the winter he is a terrible shipper," Tarrant said. "This is a nice place for him to be. He likes it here, and the track has been kind to him."

The field also includes an entry from trainer Gary Contessa of Accountforthegold and Papi Chullo, a commanding allowance winner at Belmont Park earlier this month who ran sixth in his only Monmouth appearance, the 2005 Haskell Invitational.

Lamplighter: Rematch on tap

The $60,000 Lamplighter for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf features a rematch of the one-two finishers in the Woodlawn Stakes at Pimlico on May 5.

In a dramatic stretch duel, Rebel Yeller prevailed by a nose over Encaustic in the one-mile race.

Rebel Yeller, making his turf debut, stalked the pacesetting Encaustic before collaring that rival to record his second straight victory. He is trained by Rodney Jenkins.

Top Cross, a Todd Pletcher trainee who has made all four career starts on the grass, would appreciate firm footing. His two wins came on firm courses at Calder and Gulfstream Park.