Those Wer the Days, a 5-year-old son of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch and Arch’s Gal Edith, has won five of his six lifetime starts and will attempt to extend his five-race consecutive win streak when he takes on a strong field of six other horses in Saturday’s $75,000 Skip Away Stakes at 1 1/6 mile on the main track.
“He’s training very well and we’re happy to get him back in a race,” said Andrew St. Lawrence, who oversees Kiaran McLaughlin’s division at Monmouth Park. “He’s won on turf, on dirt, going short and going long.”
Those Wer The Days was second in his first and only start in 2009 when entered in the maiden claiming ranks, but hasn’t tasted defeat since as he’s climbed the ladder steadily. His last start was in a $64,000 optional claiming allowance race at Aqueduct on April 13 and the Skip Away will be his first time in a stakes race. The competition looks pretty salty.
Pants on Fire, ninth in the Kentucky Derby last year, is dropping down from Grade 2 stakes company for trainer Kelly Breen, and Norman Asbjornson, the 11th place finisher in the 2011 Preakness, ships in for trainer Christopher Grove after finishing third in the Grade 3 Excelsior two starts back. Joe Vann, who comes out of Todd Pletcher’s stable, has been training over the Monmouth strip and figures to get plenty of support at the windows.
“Joe has been in the barn here since we arrived and he’s turned in a couple of decent works over this track,” said Anthony Sciametta, Pletcher’s Monmouth assistant. “He’s a work horse in the mornings and he makes you think that he’s going to give you a good performance in the race.”
The $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes, the 10th race on the 12-race program, precedes the Skip Away on the card. It is restricted to three-year-olds and will be run at 1 1/6 miles on the grass. Pletcher will send out Starlight Stable’s Heavy Breathing, who is dropping down after an 11th place finish in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes last out, and Sciametta said that the colt has also been training well over the track for the race.
PAIR OF SEVEN-POUND APPRENTICES TRY TO MAKE THEIR MARK
Keiber Coa and Alex Conchari have a lot in common. They are both 19-year-old apprentice riders with a seven-pound weight allowance who are only in the second year of their careers, and they have moved their tack to Monmouth for the summer.
Conchari arrived last Saturday from Arlington Park, where he was second in the rider standings, and Coa has been here since the start of the meet after competing at Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course.
“I thought I would have more opportunity here and the Northeast is where I want to be based,” said Coa, the son of retired jockey Eibar Coa who was Monmouth’s leading rider in 2001 and 2002. “Business is good so far, but since I’m a bug, the trainers have got to get to know me and I need to know them.”
After having his flight delayed and then getting stuck in traffic, Conchari arrived on Saturday just in time to keep his mount for the ninth race and finished a strong third. He said he was urged to try the Monmouth meet by Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado, who is also Peruvian.
“Business is lining up pretty good for me,” he said. “After that race, a lot of trainers came up to me and said they liked the way I rode that horse. I want to work as many as I can in the mornings and ride as many as I can in the afternoon.”
Conchari has 25 lifetime wins while Coa has six. They will lose their seven-pound allowance for a five-pound break after 40 wins or one year from the date of their fifth win.
TRIO OF SPECIAL EVENTS HIGHLIGHT HOLIDAY WEEKEND AT MP
Renowned handicapper Jim Mazur will be on track Saturday, May 26, and everyone who wants to be a better bettor can learn “How to win at Monmouth Park” and receive his Monmouth Handicapper book ($19.95 value) absolutely free. The seminar begins at 11 AM in the Monmouth Café…On Sunday the track hosts the annual Jersey Shore Food Truck Wars with over 20 trucks to choose from…There will be a special Memorial Day holiday live card on Monday with a free grandstand pass good for any live racing day in June with each paid admission.