OCEANPORT, N.J. * Bobby Frankel has both Champs Elysees and Sudan entered in Saturday’s $750,000 United Nations Stakes as he seeks a second win in the Grade 1 turf test * Joey P. faces a tough test in the $75,000 Mr. Prospector Saturday * Don MacBeth fundraiser all weekend at Monmouth * Backpack giveaway part of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Challenge Day activities.
Trainer Bobby Frankel, trying to win his first United Nations Stakes prize since 2001, has two horses in Saturday’s 55th running of the $750,000 event, which takes on added significance this year as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race.
The winner of the Grade 1 United Nations earns an automatic starting berth in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf to be run at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 25, and that guaranteed spot is a prize worth shooting for.
Frankel, who saddled Juddmonte Farm’s Senure to win the 2001 running of the mile and three-eighths turf test, has entered both Juddmonte’s Champs Elysees and Gary Tanaka’s Sudan for this year’s U.N.
Both horses raced in France last season, and the 5-year-old Champs Elysees has made five starts in the U.S., winning the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in January. Last out in the Grade 1 Charlie Whittingham at Hollywood Park last month, the English-bred horse finished a dull sixth as the 4-5 favorite.
“He got sick,” Frankel said in explaining the performance. “He had a lung infection and his blood was bad. He missed two or three days of training. But he seems like he’s fine now.”
Champs Elysees is a son of Danehill out of the Kahyasi mare Hasili, and if he wins the United Nations, he would become the sixth Grade 1 winner for his dam. Hasili has already produced full brothers Cacique (second to English Channel in the 2006 U.N.), and Intercontinental, and full sister Banks Hill, and half-sister Heat Haze.
Sudan, a 5-year-old son of Peintre Celebre, is coming off a win in the Golden Gate Fields Turf Stakes in California, his third U.S. start. A Group 1 winner in Italy last year, the Irish-bred finished third when Champs Elysees was second in the Grade 2 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap in May.
“I think he ran pretty good,” Frankel said. “I didn’t see a number on it, but he ran pretty good.”
Ramon Dominguez, who won the U.N. in 2005 aboard Better Talk Now, is named on both Champs Elysees and Sudan.
JOEY P. WHEELS BACK IN TOUGH MR. PROSPECTOR STAKES SATURDAY
Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. has laid out a summer racing plan for Joey P., which includes a race this weekend, and then the Teddy Drone Stakes on Aug. 3, and the Lincroft Handicap on Sept. 20.
Toward that end, he entered the 6-year-old New Jersey-bred in Saturday’s $75,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes, and watched as that race came up as worthy of graded status as the United Nations (G1) and Salvator Mile (G3) which top Saturday’s card.
“It’s a really tough race,” Perkins said. “I think just about every horse in there is coming off two straight wins.”
Joey P., who has recorded 12 of his 15 lifetime wins at Monmouth, is coming off a victory in the four and a half-furlong Charles Town Dash Stakes, which should have him well-honed for the six-furlong Mr. Prospector.
But Perkins had another option this weekend * the $60,000 Colts Neck Handicap for state-breds on Sunday. Until he looked at racing secretary Mike Dempsey’s weights for that six-furlong test. Joey P. was assigned 130 pounds for the Colts Neck, the highest impost of his 30-race career except for the 131 he carried in Aqueduct’s Fall Highweight Handicap, in which all starters carry at least 130. Joey P. has won three times under a 125-pound impost, including last year’s running of the Colts Neck.
“That’s getting up to Forego numbers,” Perkins said of the assignment, alluding to the weight-carrying champion of the 1970s. “And if he goes with 130 and wins, what will they give him in the next Jersey-bred handicap?”
So it’s likely Joey P. will stay in the Mr. Prospector, a race that honors the topnotch racehorse and sire developed by the late Jimmy Croll. His main foes Saturday appear to be Mr. Umphrey, who has won both his Monmouth starts, including the Longfellow Stakes last out, and Callmetony, who has won two of three at Monmouth and was third in the Longfellow.
DON MacBETH FUNDRAISER CONTINUES THROUGH HOLIDAY WEEKEND
The Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund will hold fundraising activities throughout the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The annual campaign includes sales of autographed racing memorabilia, artwork and lucky horseshoes, plus raffles for clothing and restaurant gift certificates.
The racing items include posters, photos, cards, programs and race-worn saddle cloths. Raffle prizes include gift certificates for local restaurants such as The Sitting Duck, McLoone’s, Salle Tees, Rooney’s Crab House and Richards Deli. Other prizes include a sequin horse jacket, a stay at the Molly Pitcher Hotel, and an opportunity to join announcer Larry Collmus in the booth to “call the double.”
BACKPACK GIVEAWAY AT MONMOUTH ON SATURDAY
All paid admissions to Monmouth Park on Saturday will receive a free backpack while supplies last.
The backpack giveaway is part of Breeders’ Cup Challenge Day at the track, with the $750,000 United Nations and $300,000 Salvator Mile topping a 12-race card.
Both Saturday and Sunday will be Family Fun Days with pony rides, face painters and more. Live music will be provided “On the Green” on Saturday by the Cats on a Smooth Surface Band, and on Sunday by the Mike Dalton Band.