Sunday, August 24, 2008
ALMONSOON ROLLS TO SEVEN-LENGTH SCORE IN OMNIBUS STAKES
OCEANPORT, N.J. * Almonsoon easily captured the $70,000 Omnibus Stakes, and Renda took the $60,000 Junior Champion Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday as both events were taken off the turf and run on the main track.
A burst water pipe flooded a portion of the turf course near the quarter-pole Thursday night, and grass racing was canceled both Friday and Saturday to give the track a chance to dry out. Sunday’s races are expected to be run on the turf.
Seeking an Angel grabbed the place spot, five and a quarter lengths in front of Jive, with Czarina’s Girl last in the field of four.
Almonsoon, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Jose Velez Jr., raced the 10 furlongs in 2:06 1/5 and paid $4 and $2.60 as the even-money favorite. Seeking an Angel, longest shot on the board at 4-1, completed the $11.60 exacta and paid $4.60 to place. There was no show wagering.
Seeking an Angel set slow fractions in an attempt to steal the Omnibus, but Almonsoon proved too strong to hold off as she scored her second win in five starts this year. It was her second victory in two Monmouth starts, as she won here in 2006.
This was the first stakes win for jockey Velez since he returned to Monmouth after riding earlier this summer at Arlington Park.
“I asked her a little at the five-sixteenths pole,” Velez said, “just to get her outside. “After that, I just sat on her all the way to the wire. She did everything easy. I just had to be a good passenger.”
In the Junior Champion Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Renda, the 13-10 favorite, tracked the leaders closely much of the way until entering the stretch, where she easily took command and drew off to score by seven lengths.
Countess Seagrape, an 8-1 chance, finished second, two and a quarter lengths in front of Maxinkuckee Miss.
Renda, trained by Juan Arias and ridden by Sebastian Madrid, raced the one mile over a fast main track in 1:40 flat and paid $4.60, $3.40 and $2.20 across the board. Countess Seagrape, who completed the $25.40 exacta, paid $6.60 to place and $3.40 to show, while Maxinkuckee Miss returned $2.40 to show.
Renda, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, broke her maiden at Calder in May, and came into this race off graded stakes tries in the Debutante at Churchill Downs and the Schuylerville at Saratoga. She ran fifth in both those Grade 3 events.
“She was prepared to go either way, turf or dirt,” Arias said of the winner. “She got pinched back a little in the beginning, but when she angled out, she ran on well.”
Jockey Madrid, who was riding Renda for the first time, said , “I had a perfect trip. The race set up just the way I thought, but I didn’t think I was going to be so close. When she put me in that position, I thought ‘this is great.’”
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