FIRE ALARM IS READY FOR THE RESTORATION STAKES

While perusing the past performances for Sunday’s $60,000 Restoration Stakes at Monmouth Park, owner/trainer Dennis Manning was of the opinion that the Bret Calhoun-trained Fire Alarm would prove tough competition for the six other 3-year-olds in the field.

The connections of Fire Alarm, who was a solid second to the graded-stakes-winning Howe Great in the Jersey Derby here last time out, supported Manning’s assessment of the 1 1/8-mile test over the turf course.

“Fire Alarm came out of that last race very good and he’s been training good,” said Tom Morgan, the assistant to Calhoun. “We really think the extra distance will help him. We’ve been looking for a race that was a mile-and-an-eighth or a mile-and-a-quarter for him, but there was nothing else in the range of $60,000 to $75,000 and a small stakes for him. This race came up, and it fits perfectly for him.”

Owners Gary and Mary West had hoped that Fire Alarm would chase the Triple Crown trail this year, but his performance in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on April 1 doused that dream. The son of Fusiachi Pegasus from the Tiznow mare Sweet Beat showed nothing and was a badly beaten ninth. Calhoun then decided to give Fire Alarm some time off and the see if he would fare better on the grass.

He took well to it, finishing fourth behind Malibu Way, Heavy Breathing and Manning’s horse, Crafty Unicorn, in the $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes on May 26. Then before the Jersey Derby, Fire Alarm was gelded.

“He’s a maturing horse who’s steadily gotten better, especially since we gelded him,” said Morgan. “I don’t think he’s shown his true potential. We really like him.”

Manning is also fond of his horse, who has only competed against stakes company in his four lifetime starts and has always finished in the money.

“I paid $20,000 (as a 2-year-old) for him and he’s already earned over $80,000,” Manning said. “So far, he’s been a pretty good investment.”



MULTIPLE STAKES WINNER SAN PABLO FAVORED IN THE ISELIN



San Pablo will try to become a first-time graded stakes winner in Saturday’s Grade 3 $150,000 Philip Iselin Stakes and if the professional handicappers are right, trainer Todd Pletcher soon will have one more of them in the barn.

The multiple stakes-winning San Pablo, a 4-year-old colt by Jump Start out of the Silver Ghost mare Hunt’s Corner, was made the 2-1 favorite in the field of seven by Monmouth Park track handicapper Brad Thomas. Not only did San Pablo win the Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga by three lengths last time out, but he earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in the process.

Two starts back, as the even-money favorite, he finished fourth behind stable mate Rule in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup at one mile, but the trip was far from ideal. He was bumped at the start and then was forced to race wide the rest of the way.

The added distance of 1 1/8 miles in the Birdstone was ideal for him, so having to travel the same in the Iselin will suit him. Moreover, he likes to set the early fractions and it appears that the others will have to chase him.

Gourmet Dinner, Eldaafer, Self Control, Ponzi Scheme, Small Town Talk, and Toby’s Corner will also contest the Iselin.



WITHGREATPLEASURE PROBABLE FOR THE LADY’S SECRET



She was already the best horse in David Nunn’s barn. Now that Withgreatpleasure has given her trainer his first stakes victory, she’s also his favorite.

“She came back great,” said Nunn, while smiling from ear to ear as he accepted congratulations for the 4-year-old filly’s recent win in the Unbridled Belle Stakes at Delaware Park when she finished a head in front of Giant Sensation, who is trained by Todd Pletcher.

“There is no better way to win your first stakes than to beat a future Hall of Fame trainer,” said Nunn, a former jockey who was also an exercise rider for Hall of Fame trainers LeRoy Jolley and Mack Miller. “You can only be a bridesmaid so many times, so this is really great. It’s also great for the owner, David Blethen, because this is his first stakes win, too.”

The $75,000 Lady Secret Stakes will be contested at 1 1/16 miles at Monmouth on Sunday, August 26. The race won’t give Withgreatpleasure much time to savor her stakes win as it came on August 11.

“Coming back quickly like that is definitely worrisome,” said Nunn. “But I’d like to stay home with here. She’s raced all over the country. She does enough shipping.”

Withgreatpleasure has already signaled that she is happy running out of her stall. Last year, she was second in the Serena’s Song Stakes and third in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks.