Todd Pletcher was on the backstretch this morning for a routine check of his 42-horse division stabled here and the leading trainer in North America said that at least one of his five nominees will run in the Grade 2 $200,000 Monmouth Stakes on June 10.
Hudson Steele, Joe Vann, Queensplatekitten, Slow Pace and Turbo Compressor are under consideration for the Grade 2 $200,000 Monmouth Stakes to be run at one mile and one eighth on the turf.
Turbo Compressor, a four-year-old Florida-bred son of Halo’s Image, is dropping down from his last effort in the Grade 1 $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby under card. Although in striking distance at the quarter pole, he tired through the lane to finish eighth in the 11-horse field.
Hudson Steele, stabled at Pletcher’s main base in New York, is asserting himself as one of the top turf horses in the country and has won two grass stakes at Pimlico in his 2012 outings.
GREGG SACCO BARN WELL REPRESENTED IN NJ-BRED STAKES
On Saturday and Sunday New Jersey-breds will take center stage, first in the $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap for horses three and older at six furlongs on the main track and then in Sunday’s $60,000 Open Mind Handicap for fillies and mares three and up at the same distance and on the same surface.
Trainer Greg Sacco comes into both stakes with a strong hand as he sends out Voodoo Charm and Silent Appeal, a supplemental nomination, for the Reilly, and comes back the next day with Ima Jersey Girl and Cee The Country in the Open Mind.
“Voodoo Charm worked dynamite the other day. He went for five furlongs in a minute,” Sacco said. “He could make his presence felt in the last part of the race.”
The four-year-old colt, who is by Grade 1 winner Devil His Due out of the Beau Genius mare Carly Pooh and is a Pot o Gold Stables homebred, who won four races on this track last year, including the New Jersey Breeders Handicap.
“In the Open Mind I’m going to run both and I feel that both have a chance,” Sacco said. “Cee The Country is quicker out of the gate and Ima Jersey Girl will settle in a sprint and then come rolling. Both have a trio of works since their last races and they are ready to go.”
Owned and bred by John Brunetti’s Red Oak Stable, Ima Jersey Girl won four races at Monmouth last year as a three-year-old and all five of her 12 lifetime wins have come at this track. Last out she was third against open company at Parx in the two-turn Sleigh Ride Stakes in January.
Cee The Country, owned by River Ridge Stables and bred by Mildred Fleming, is also a multiple winner here and was fourth when she ran in the Who Did it and Run Stakes on the Meadowlands turf course in her last start on May 4.
Sacco said he also plans to run Freud’s Honour, the 2011 champion New Jersey-bred three-year-old male, in the Grade 2 $200,000 Monmouth Stakes on June 10.
“He’s good to go in the big one. His last race (a fourth-place finish in an optional claiming allowance on May 20) was a tightener and he needed that,” said Sacco. “The Monmouth is a going to be a tough race. He’s got to have his running shoes on.”
NEW 12:45 PM POST TIME BEGINS WITH FRIDAY’S CARD
Monmouth Park will move to a new post time of 12:45 p.m. as it begins a three-day live racing schedule this Friday, June 1. The racetrack will continue with a three-day schedule through Sept. 2, with the addition of holiday cards on July 4 and Sept. 3 (Labor Day). The 12:45 post will carry through the season with the exception of Haskell Day, July 29, when post time will be noon, and four twilight cards on the last four Thursdays in August – post time will be 4 p.m.
MONMOUTH/WOODBINE HANDICAPPING CONTEST THIS SUNDAY
The $200 Monmouth/Woodbine Handicapping Contest will be held this Sunday, with the top two finishers earning a seat in the 2013 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas.
The $200 fee includes $100 for the entry and a $100 bankroll. The format calls for win, place and show wagers only on Monmouth Park and Woodbine races. While the top two qualify for Vegas, cash prizes will be awarded to the top 10 finishers.