The first graded stakes of the meet came up mighty tough and Whipsaw City will invade from New York to take on some very accomplished fillies and mares in the Grade 3 $100,000 Violet Stakes to be run at 1 1/16 mile over the turf course.
“My filly is doing really well right now,” said trainer Chad Brown when reached by phone Sunday morning. “You can throw out her last race. Her two races on the turf were good and that’s why she’s in this race.”
In her only other two starts this year since joining Brown’s stable, the French-bred Whipsaw City took a pair of allowance races on the Gulfstream grass in impressive fashion. Prior to coming to America this year, she raced in France for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget and all of her efforts were in stakes company.
Brown said that Corporate Jungle, who won the $75,000 Elkwood Stakes on the turf here on May 19, may return for another stakes during the meet but he had no specific race on the white board at this stage.
MY SUNSHINE GAL TRIES TO BECOME STAKES WINNER
Derek Ryan sends out My Sunshine Gal in Monday’s $60,000 Red Cross Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs on the main track and her connections hope that the 4-year-old daughter of Bluegrass Cat can earn a trophy for the barn.
She tried the $65,000 Primonetta Stakes at the same distance in her last race on April 14 at Pimlico and ran willingly to take third. She figures to move forward from that effort.
“She came out of that race in good shape and has been working quite well for this one and we hope that she will run her race,” said Mark Weir, Ryan’s assistant. “Once the gate opens, you always need a little bit of luck on your side.”
My Sunshine Gal would prefer dark skies. Her grandsires are Forty Niner and Awesome Again so she is bred up and down to love the mud.
“We are really hoping for an off-track because that certainly would help her but it doesn’t look like she’ll get it,” said Weir.
PANTS ON FIRE COULD GO NEXT IN GRADE 2, $200,000 MONMOUTH CUP
Trainer Kelly John Breen was all smiles at the barn on Sunday morning in the wake of Pants On Fire’s return to the winner’s circle in Saturday’s $75,000 Skip Away Stakes here. The victory was the 4-year-old colt’s first in a stakes since he won the Grade 3 Pegasus on this track last June and now the Grade 2 $200,000 Monmouth Cup on July 7 is in his sights.
“So far so good,” Breen said when asked how the George and Lori Hall color bearer came out of the race. “The Monmouth Cup is still a thought and we’ll see how it goes.”
Breen, who will send out In the Rough in Monday’s $100,000 Violet Stakes, which is the first graded event of 17 to be run here during the meet, said that the possibility exists that another big horse in the barn, My Adonis, may show up in the entries at Monmouth down the road.
My Adonis, who is also owned by the Halls, turned in a bullet work this morning of :59.4 for five furlongs, the fastest time of 30 works at the distance. He was an also-eligible for this year’s Kentucky Derby but did not draw into the race. Last year, Pants On Fire finished ninth in the Run for the Roses.
JOCKEY PACO LOPEZ RIDES FIVE WINNERS ON SATURDAY CARD
Paco Lopez, the leading rider here in 2010, visited the winner’s circle five times on Saturday, including with Pants On Fire in the Skip Away.
“I am really happy. Yesterday was a great day,” he said after checking in to the jockeys’ room on Sunday morning. “But it wasn’t my first time. I had five winners in one day here last year, and also did it at Gulfstream and Calder. I’m feeling really good and am comfortable with the way I’m riding right now.”
Lopez currently leads the standings with 12 wins from 38 mounts. On Saturday he won the first race with D’Marin ($3.20), the seventh with Afternoon Treat ($3.20), the eighth with Exclusive Strike ($7.20), the 11th with Pants On Fire ($2.80) and the 12th with the aptly named Super Saturday ($4.80).
GRANDSTAND PASS GIVEAWAY ON MEMORIAL DAY
Patrons can celebrate Memorial Day with a special holiday 10-race card and everyone will receive a free grandstand pass for June with paid admission. Family Fun Day with free pony rides and children’s entertainment will take place in the Grandstand area from noon to 4 p.m.