GET SERIOUS READY FOR SATURDAY’S GRADE 3 CLIFFHANGER

He may be the one of the fans’ favorite horses on the Monmouth Park grounds and his connections think that Get Serious will give them a seriously good run for their money in Saturday’s Grade 3 $100,000 Cliffhanger Stakes.

The 8-year-old gelded son of City Zip out of the Java Gold mare Java Gal loves both the Monmouth turf course and the one-mile distance of the race. In a career that has seen him win 14 of 38 starts and earn $1,113,091, eight of Get Serious’s victories have come in stakes races here and five of those have been grade 3 affairs.

On Friday morning, Get Serious showed every sign of a fit and ready racehorse.

“He’s fantastic,” said John Forbes, who trains him and is assisted by Pat McBurney and Gus Duarte. “He’s the best he’s been for as long as we can remember. I hope he’s going to be able to keep his fans happy.”

Remarkably, Get Serious won three straight editions of the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes from 2009-2012 (the race was not run in 2011) and he also took the 2009-2010 runnings of the Oceanport Stakes. He didn’t win a single race last year, but he was suffering from a nasty and lingering infection in his leg that compromised his campaign.

That malady is completely cured and now he’s kicking down the barn doors.

“He’s super-duper. It looks like the weather is going to cooperate and I think it’s going to take a really good horse to beat him,” said Forbes.

Last time out in this year’s Oceanport, which was part of the Haskell Invitational undercard, he raced on the pace but ended up third behind longshot Tune Me In and Queen’splatekitten despite digging in to the wire.

“We got an inch of rain on the day before that race,” recalled Forbes. “I wasn’t going to run on Saturday if the course was going to be soft. But it should be firm, just the way he likes it.”

How difficult is it to keep a horse so good for so long?

“He’s just a really sturdy horse,” said Forbes. “You have to credit City Zip and the mare, but Wayne and Susan Chatfield-Taylor at Morgan’s Ford Farm in Virginia bred him and they raised him right. They raise a better horse than just about anybody. They raise good-boned and sturdy horses with a will to win. We’ve had a number of stakes winners here over the years who were raised by them.”

Among those horses are Mosquera, Thunder by the Storm, named after a bona fide Native American who once came to the races to watch that horse run, and Sword of Song.

Like many highly talented racehorses, Get Serious can be a handful.

“He’s as ornery as the day is long,” said Forbes. “He’s certainly not the easiest horse to train. Pat and Gus do a great job with him. Gus gets on him every day and that’s half the battle.”


PLESA FILLIES FIRE BULLETS FOR THE MISS WOODFORD

Stablemates Salad Girl and Say a Novena will break from the gate alongside one another in Saturday’s $60,000 Miss Woodford Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. expects a bang-up effort from them both in the six-furlong race on the main track.

“Salad Girl is the New Jersey-bred queen,” he said of the multiple Jersey-bred stakes winner who was voted the 2011 state-bred champion Juvenile Filly. “She has also run very well against open company and now will be competing against her own age group again. Say a Novena hasn’t rounded back into the form she showed as a juvenile as we had hoped, but she is coming in off a freshening and has been training really well, so I expect them both to run really well.”

Salad Girl is owned and was bred by Joel Kligman and will run uncoupled against Rick Shanley’s Kentucky-bred Say a Novena. Together, they traveled four furlongs in the identical time of :48 flat for the fastest breeze of 22 horses at the distance on August 8.

Say a Novena, who ran in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, is still looking for her first triumph in 2012. She has won two of her four previous Monmouth starts, including the 2011 Colleen Stakes, and she’ll be dropping down from the Grade 3 Azalea Stakes last out. Salad Girl has been victorious twice in six starts over the track, including the 2011 $60,000 Jersey Juvenile for state-bred fillies.


FREE MILLER LITE GRANDSTAND PASS ON LABOR DAY

Everyone coming to the track on Labor Day, Monday, September 3 will receive a free Miller Lite Month of September/October Grandstand pass with paid admission. The free passes will be valid for every live racing day through the end of Monmouth’s race meet – Oct. 7.