Turbo Compressor was a useful stakes winner on the dirt last year but since Todd Pletcher switched him to the turf in March, the 4-year-old son of Dynaformer has inserted himself into the conversation about the nation’s top male grass horses.
Fresh off his impressive gate-to-wire win last out in the $500,000 Colonial Cup at Colonial Downs on June 16 when going one mile and three sixteenths on firm footing in 1:55, Turbo Compressor will be the likely favorite in the Grade 1 $500,000 United Nations Stakes. He’ll be asked to carry his speed one-half furlong farther on Saturday.
Pletcher paired Turbo Compressor with a variety of different riders before giving Joe Bravo the call for the Colonial Cup. Bravo, who is considered a master of pace on the Monmouth course, gets the return call for the United Nations and will be part of the 118 pound impost.
But with the locally-based Freud’s Honour likely to challenge Turbo Compressor on the front end, the race may set up for one of the horses sitting off the pace.
“It doesn’t look like there’s an awful lot of speed in the race,” said Tom Albertrani, who trains likely second choice Brilliant Speed. “As long as my horse gets a clean trip and it’s an honest pace, I expect him to run his race.”
It’s been 10 months since Brilliant Speed, who led into the stretch in last year’s $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf before fading, has won a race but his dance card has been full while running in grade one company. Rosie Napravnik will travel from Belmont to ride him for the first time.
“He’s run in all of the big spots and he’s been close. Hopefully, he’ll move forward and we’ll get him back to the winner’s circle,” said Albertrani, who is best known as the trainer of multiple grade one winner Bernardini and as the former assistant to Bill Mott when Mott conditioned champions Theatrical, Paradise Creek and Cigar. Mott will send out Al Khali in the United Nations.
Eldaafer, the only other locally-stabled horse in the field of seven, finished sixth in last year’s edition of the United Nations but trainer Diane Alvarado isn’t shying away from the competition even though the horse’s best and most recent races have been on the dirt.
“It’s a tough race and everyone says he’ll be a long shot, but he won a couple of times on the turf,” she said of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner. “Paco Lopez is going to ride him and he loves him on the turf. Paco has been working him and he is very confident and that says a lot.
“With Turbo Compressor and Freud’s Honour likely going to go, the pace sets up well because Eldaafer doesn’t sit too far off of it. I’m looking forward to seeing him run.”
Slim Shadey, the 120 highweight, and Air Support complete the field. The supporting stakes race on the 12-race card is the Grade 2 $200,000 Monmouth Cup and six are entered for the one mile event on the main track.
GUARANTEED $100,000 LATE PICK FOUR ON SATURDAY
Saturday’s late Pick 4, which includes the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes and Grade 2 Monmouth Cup, will have a guaranteed pool of $100,000. With a 50 cent base wager, the late Pick 4 is offered on races nine through 12.
TEN LUCKY FANS WILL WIN FREE $500 BET ON SATURDAY
The only thing more fun than playing the races and picking winners is doing so with free money. Ten lucky fans will have the chance to do just that on Saturday when Monmouth will give them each a $500 wagering voucher to bet on the United Nations Stakes.
Everyone 18 or older who comes to the track may enter a drawing to win one of the 10 vouchers. While the $500 must be wagered on that race, the winners may bet the amount any way they want and they will be invited to watch from the winner’s circle.
HANDICAPPING CONTEST FOR DRF/NTRA CHAMPIONSHIP
Anyone who has ever dreamed of competing in the 2013 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship can earn one of two berths on Saturday at Monmouth. The $200 due at registration includes a $100 non-refundable entry fee and a $100 bankroll and registration, which begins at 11:30 a.m. and is walk-up only.
ReRUN RAFFLE AND JOCKEY MEMORaBILIA SALE
Fans will have the chance to meet their favorite riders, get autographs outside of the jockeys’ room and collect racing memorabilia on Saturday. All proceeds will benefit ReRun, which helps Thoroughbreds find new homes and second careers once their racing days are over.