Saturday, May 23, 2009


OCEANPORT, N.J. * Get Serious set a new turf course record in winning the $70,000 Elkwood Stakes, and Joey P. turned in one of the most impressive victories of his career in the $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap as a crowd of 10,350 got their money’s worth on the Saturday program at Monmouth Park.

Get Serious, trained by the team of John Forbes and Pat McBurney and ridden by Pablo Fragoso, blazed to the lead rounding the turn and roared off through the stretch to stop the teletimer in 1:32.78 for one mile on the firm turf course. He shattered the course record of 1:33.36 that was set in the 2006 Red Bank Stakes by Miesque’s Approval, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile that year.

Get Serious, sent off an 8-1 chance in the field of 10, reached the line nearly three lengths before Carson Hall, the 2-1 favorite. Silver Tree rallied to be third, a half-length farther back.

The winner, a 5-year-old son of City Zip, recorded his fourth victory in six starts on the Monmouth grass, paying $19.20, $9.80 and $7.80 across the board. Carson Hall completed the $105.80 exacta and paid $4 and $2.80. Silver Tree returned $5.60 to show.

Get Serious sat behind the speed to the quarter-pole when Fragoso asked him to go. He went with alacrity, and was never threatened at any point after making the lead. He earned a prize of $42,000 for owners Hampshire Farm and Jacques J. Moore.

“He was really nice early on,” said Forbes, “but he was just too rambunctious. We gelded him last spring and that made all the difference. Today he destroyed the track record. Pablo (jockey Fragoso) said he stumbled a little bit out of the gate, but he sure recovered nicely.”

“This gelding is just a really nice horse,” Fragoso said. “He loves the Monmouth Park turf course, as he showed this afternoon. Mr. Forbes and Mr. McBurney have done a wonderful job with this horse. They really had him ready to fire.”

In the Reilly, a six-furlong test for New Jersey-breds, Joey P. was the whole show as he roared into command turning for home and then romped through the stretch en route to an eight and a quarter-length victory, his 13th in 24 career starts at Monmouth. He stopped the clock in 1:08 3/5 for six panels over the fast main track.

The big battle was for the place well behind Joey P.’s victory march as Hermosillo, a 101-1 shot got up by a nose over Flirtatious Smile, with Who’s the Cowboy a closing fourth.

Joey P., a John Petrini homebred trained by Ben Perkins Jr., went off the 6-5 favorite under Joe Bravo in the field of nine and paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.40 across the board. Hermosillo, making his first start of the year, paid $25.80 to place and $10.20 to show and completed the $244.80 exacta. Flirtatious Smile, part of the 6-1 entry with Who’s the Cowboy, paid $2.80 to show.

This was the third victory in the Reilly Handicap for the 7-year-old Joey P., who also won in 2006 and last year, also with Bravo aboard. The $36,000 winner’s share gave him a career bankroll of $973,472.

The race was simplicity itself from Joey P.’s standpoint. The son of Close Up sat third behind Unwritten and Flirtatious Smile, who were cutting out a fast pace. When Bravo moved his hands slightly on the turn, Joey P. took off, grabbing the lead entering the stretch. The afterburners kicked in and Bravo never put the old warrior to any pressure as he increased his lead with every stride.

“When we drew the outside,” Perkins said, “we figured we’d just sit off the early pace. That was real impressive. We’re really lucky he came back so good.

“We’ll probably go to that race at Charles Town (the $250,000 Charles Town Invitational Dash on June 20). He won it last year, so that’s likely where we’ll go.”

Bravo, who has been aboard in 11 of Joey P.’s 16 career victories, was impressed again.

“This horse is just tons of fun to ride,” Bravo said. “He makes the job so easy for me. When we were heading toward the top of the lane, the two horses inside him were really working hard and
he was just in a morning gallop. This J-bred just keeps impressing people more and more every time he hits the track.”

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