OCEANPORT, N.J. * Who’s the Cowboy looks for a win in Sunday’s $60,000 Colts Neck Handicap * Czarina’s Girl is well-placed in the $70,000 Miss Liberty Stakes * Half-brother to stakes winner Park Avenue Ball debuts Sunday * The 17th annual Backstretch Appreciation Day Picnic will be held Monday, July 14.
Gerry Sleeter’s Who’s the Cowboy was a sprinting force at Monmouth in 2006, when he won four stakes here, both open company and New Jersey-breds. But the 6-year-old son of Intensity has fallen on difficult times since, and his last recorded victory came in the Friendly Lover Handicap on Sept. 16, 2006.
On Sunday, the Cowboy gets another chance at redemption when he carries co-highweight of 119 pounds in the $60,000 Colts Neck Handicap at six furlongs. In 2006, it was the Colts Neck that started his streak of four straight stakes. He came into that race off a defeat by Joey P.
This season, he comes into the Colts Neck off a second to Joey P. in the John J. Reilly ‘Cap for state-breds and a fourth behind Mr. Umphrey in the open Longfellow Stakes.
“This is a better spot for him than the last two,” said Sleeter, whose son Kevin trains the Cowboy. “I really don’t like the inside post, but he’s won from there before, so it should be okay. And there’s no Joey P. this time.
“He ran well in those races, and he’s been training great.” Sleeter said. “This looks like the right spot for him.”
Hey Chub, who finished second to Joey P. in last year’s Colts Neck (Who’s the Cowboy was third), also carries 119 pounds Sunday.
Next in the handicap at 117 is John Petrini’s John’s Pic, who has not won since he took the John McSorley Stakes on the turf here last July 15.
“He’s better on the turf,” trainer Frank Costa said, “but he’s going real good now, and he should run good here.
John’s Pic, a 5-year-old son of Awad, was second in the Wolf Hill Stakes on grass here in June, and last out threw in a clunker in an off-the-turf allowance.
CZARINA’S GIRL WELL-PLACED IN SUNDAY’S MISS LIBERTY STAKES
D’Arrigo Racing Stable’s Czarina’s Girl, who has won on both dirt and turf at Monmouth, comes back down to earth on Sunday when she goes in the $70,000 Miss Liberty Stakes, scheduled for a mile and an eighth on the grass.
Last out, the 6-year-old mare by Unbridled made a memorable first stakes start in the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes when she ran evenly along the inside from her rail post and earned fourth money, finishing just four lengths behind winner Social Queen.
“The owner thought she could have been third and that would help her as a broodmare,” said trainer Pat McBurney. “To just get in the money was worth a shot. She ran okay to finish fourth with those girls.”
With that experience behind her, the Miss Liberty offers an easier spot since it’s ungraded and several members of the field are entered in other races Sunday.
And if the unpredictable summer weather forces the race off the turf, Czarina’s Girl will still be in good shape, since she’s won three on the main track here. And an off track would be especially good for the New Jersey-bred, since all three of her wins here have come in the slop.
HALF-BROTHER TO PARK AVENUE BALL DEBUTS SUNDAY
Sunday’s third race here, a $37,000 event for 2-year-old maidens at five furlongs, offers the usual interesting array of pedigrees. But the one who stands out is Beacon Hill Road.
The dark bay colt by Forestry is a half-brother to Park Avenue Ball (by Citidancer), one of the top earning New Jersey-breds of all time who retired to stud last season after banking $1,049,360 under the guidance of trainer Jim Ryerson. His record includes wins in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont and the Grade 3 Long Branch and Iselin at Monmouth.
Beacon Hill Road, who is trained by Ben Perkins Jr., was bred by C.J. Hesse, Inc., and races in the same Char-Mari Stable silks as his older brother. Marianne Hesse has been running the stable since her husband Charles passed away last year.
The Hesse family bred Road to the Ball, a daughter of Cahill Road who broke her maiden at first asking here at Monmouth in 1995. Park Avenue Ball also won first time out, beating Who’s the Cowboy by five lengths in a state-bred maiden special in 2004.
Park Avenue Ball now stands at stud at Colonial Farms in Colts Neck, N.J.
17TH ANNUAL BACKSTRETCH APPRECIATION DAY SET JULY 14
The 17th annual Backstretch Appreciation Day Picnic at Monmouth Park will be held on Monday, July 14, rain or shine, starting at noon.
The picnic, which is open to all backstretch employees and their families was started by Dan Perlsweig in 1991 as a way of thanking all the people who work with the horses and keep racing going smoothly.
Last year, the picnic drew more than 2,000 people, and this year’s event is expected to lure the same.
The theme of the picnic is food and fun. The menu offers chicken, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad, baked beans, watermelon and more. Beverages include soda and beer.
There will be games and raffles all afternoon, with more than 500 prizes given away. In addition, more than 800 t-shirts will be handed out to backstretch employees.