MUCH OBLIGED INVADES FROM WOODBINE FOR BOILING SPRINGS
Three-year-old turf fillies will be in the spotlight Saturday when Monmouth features the $150,000 Boiling Spring Stakes (G3), and the invader from up north will draw a lot of attention.
The bay filly is impeccably bred to be a good one on grass (Kingmambo * Danka, by Strawberry Road), and she’s coming off a half-length victory in the American 1000 Guineas Stakes in Chicago on May 24.
“We were very happy with that race,” said trainer Malcolm Pierce. “She came out in good order, and she’s been training well here at Woodbine ever since.”
Much Obliged has won three of her four starts this year, with her only loss coming in the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland when she was stuck inside most of the way. In her winning races, she made big stretch moves on the outside to be drawing off at the wire.
The filly, who was winless in three starts as a 2-year-old at Woodbine last year, has improved dramatically at 3.
“She’s been progressing nicely,” Pierce said. “This will be a tougher test than the last race, but she’s moving forward.”
The trainer said that he’s given the mount Saturday to Arlington-based rider Chris Emigh, who rode her last out.
“He did a good job with her,” Pierce said, “and he knows her now, so we’re flying him in for the ride Saturday.”
Pierce is no stranger to winning at Monmouth Park. In 1998, he stabled a string here and was one of the highest percentage trainers, winning at a 32 percent clip.
His Oceanport resume also includes saddling Wilderness Song to win the 1993 Molly Pitcher Stakes (G2) when he worked as assistant to Jim Day with the Sam-Son Farm horses.
GOTTCHA GOLD PREPARES FOR REPEAT TRY IN SALVATOR MILE
Centaur Farms’ Gottcha Gold is progressing nicely in his training, said Ed Plesa Jr., and will be ready to try for a repeat victory in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile here on Saturday, July 5.
The Salvator Mile and the $750,000 United Nations Stakes (G1), which also will be decided July 5, are both Breeders’ Cup Challenge events. The winners of those two races will be automatic entries in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita in October.
Gottcha Gold, who upset the heavily favored Lawyer Ron in last year’s Salvator, and then finished second in the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, tuned up for this year’s race with a superb effort in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special on May 16. He led every step of the mile and three-sixteenths event run in the mud until the last stride, when he was necked by Student Council.
“He’s training well,” said Plesa. “He breezed an easy mile last Saturday, and he’ll breeze five-eighths this Saturday.”
Gottcha Gold, a 5-year-old son of Coronado’s Quest, loves it at Monmouth Park. He’s won five of 10 starts here, including both the Salvator and Iselin Stakes (G3) last year.
The Florida-bred will have a new rider for this year’s Salvator Mile. Chuck C. Lopez, who rode him most of last year, is still sidelined with a foot injury, so Plesa has named Eddie Castro to ride in the stakes. Castro knows Gottcha Gold very well, and in fact was aboard when the horse broke his maiden at Calder in 2005.
TURF EXPERIMENT OVER, HEY BRYN TARGETS LONG BRANCH
Bea Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn, who was on the Triple Crown trail all spring when he finished fourth behind Big Brown in the Florida Derby, and then won the Holy Bull Stakes in Florida, will continue his quest against the Classic set, trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. confirmed Wednesday.
His target will be the $150,000 Long Branch Stakes on Saturday, July 12, which serves as Monmouth’s main prep for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3.
After the colt by Put It Back turned in a lackluster effort in the Preakness (seventh of 12 starters, 15 lengths behind Big Brown), Plesa started thinking about putting Hey Byrn on the grass. He even went so far as to work the colt on turf here on June 12 (five furlongs in 1:01 4/5).
“He worked well on the grass,” Plesa said, “and he might run well on it, too. But for now, we’ll keep him on the main track. We want to give him a chance in the good 3-year-old races. He deserves a chance to see what he can do. You never know if you’ll have another opportunity.”