Monmouth’s distaff stakes always come up competitive affairs, and Monday’s $70,000 Monmouth Beach Stakes fits the traditional pattern. A field of eight fillies and mares was named for the one mile and 70-yard event, and it’s guaranteed the winner will have to do some running.
Trainer Larry Jones is bringing back Maren’s Meadow, a 4-year-old daughter of Meadowlake who wowed the crowd here last August with a brilliant front-running victory in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks.
“She’s had some issues,” Jones said, “and she’s had her ups and downs. But she’s doing well now, training well.”
Jones subscribes to the ‘horses-for-courses’ theory where Maren’s Meadow is concerned.
“We’re bringing her to Monmouth because she liked the track so well last year. I think the track fits her (front-running) style. She’ll be racing a lot at Monmouth this summer.”
Jones said that the main goal this summer for Maren’s Meadow will be the $300,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes (G2) on Sunday, Aug. 30.
One trainer who will be waiting to find out if he has a horse for this course is Steve DiMauro, who sends out Annabill in the Monmouth Beach. The 6-year-old mare by Outflanker has been a solid Calder performer the past four seasons and sports a career mark of 18 wins, 8 seconds and 5 thirds in 43 starts, the mark of a professional racehorse.
“We just bought her privately,” DiMauro said. “She’s only been here with me for two weeks. She loved Calder, and I’m hoping she can translate her Calder form to Monmouth.
“I’m hoping she does as well for us as she did for (former trainer) Milt Wolfson.”
LIGHTLY RACED SLEEPLESS KNIGHT ONE TO WATCH IN LAMPLIGHTER
Developing 3-year-old turf horses will be on display Monday in the $65,000 Lamplighter Stakes, and one of the least tested horses in the field could be one of the most-watched.
George and Lori Hall’s Sleepless Knight has started just twice in his career and sports one win and one second. He’s got a solid grass pedigree (War Chant * Dream About, by Cherokee Run) and he gets the riding services of Joe Bravo, the go-to guy on Monmouth turf.
“He needs to mature a little,” said trainer Kelly Breen, “and ordinarily I wouldn’t ask him to step up into stakes company right now. But the way he works, he deserves a chance in here.”
Breen said he wasn’t planning on having a turf horse at all when Sleepless Knight starting training.
“We never got to do much with him at 2 because he had some little injuries and we sent him to the Halls’ farm in Kentucky,” Breen said.
“That extra time helped and he looked good when we put him in training in Florida,” the trainer said. “Angel Cordero (retired Hall of Fame jockey) worked him on the dirt one day, and when he
came back he said, ‘Does this horse have a turf pedigree?’ Angel said the horse had high action, and felt he needed the grass. We went along with his suggestion,” Breen said.
Sleepless Knight made his first start on Feb. 13 at Gulfstream, finishing a closing second under John Velazquez.
“Johnny V said the colt didn’t get focused right away,” Breen said, “but he said he was really flying at the end.”
For his next start at Gulfstream on April 12, Sleepless Knight had Joe Bravo aboard as he closed to win by nearly three lengths.
“He gave Joe a nice ride that day,” Breen said. “That’s what we’re looking for again.”
JOEY P., GET SERIOUS RELAX AFTER BIG STAKES EFFORTS SATURDAY
The 7-year-old Joey P. and the 5-year-old Get Serious relaxed at the barn Sunday morning after powerful efforts here on Saturday on dirt and turf.
Joey P. moved closer to joining the ranks of New Jersey-bred millionaires as he turned in one of the most impressive races of his career, an eight and a quarter-length win in the Reilly Handicap, his six furlongs in 1:08 3/5.
“He’s an amazing horse,” said trainer Ben Perkins Jr. “Everything went perfect for him and he looked great.”
The John Petrini homebred was out more than two months after a lung infection put him on the sidelines in March.
“The time off helped him,” Perkins said. “But he’s an ‘easy doer’ and always has been. He hadn’t run since March, and all he had going in to this race was two half-mile breezes and he was ready.”
Joey P. increased his career bankroll to $973,472 with a record of 16-7-1 in 35 starts. He’ll have a chance to go over the $1 million mark next month in the $250,000 Charles Town Invitational Dash, a race he won last year.
Get Serious, trained by the team of John Forbes and Pat McBurney, was lazily munching grass Sunday morning, a day after shattering a Monmouth turf course record by running one mile in 1:32.78.
“He must be tired,” McBurney said. “He isn’t giving anybody a hard time.”
Get Serious, owned by Hampshire Farms and Jacques Moore, is known to be an ornery customer, a trait that has continued even after he was gelded, and McBurney said he had already kicked two hotwalkers this year.
But his talent on the Monmouth grass is obvious, and his nearly three-length score in Saturday’s Elkwood Stakes was his fourth win in six starts over the local grass course.
His next start will likely be the $200,000 Monmouth Stakes at a mile and an eighth on the green on June 13.
MAZUR TO HOST WOODBINE HANDICAPPING SEMINAR ON MONDAY
Handicapper Jim Mazur will present a new handicapping seminar on Monday when he offers his insights into betting races at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.
This introduction to Woodbine racing is designed to help in the Monmouth/Woodbine Super Six Handicapping Challenge to be held on June 21. Prizes include two seats in the Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas.
All those attending the seminar will receive a free copy of Mazur’s “Winning at Woodbine” book, a $29.95 value.
The seminar, which starts at 11 a.m. Monday, will be held in the Monmouth Café on the first floor of the grandstand.