2012-07-05 / Sports
Haskell to highlight busy July at Monmouth Park
After a day of holiday racing on July 4, the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes tops the list of races for July 7. Some of the best turf horses in the country will be on the track for the $500,000 feature race. The Monmouth Cup, which offers a $200,000 purse, will be held on the same day.
The $100,000 Long Branch Stakes and the $75,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes are set for July 8.
The Jersey Shore Stakes will be run on July 14, offering a $100,000 purse.
The Haskell festivities commence the following day, July 15, with the 19th annual Haskell Classic Car Show. Gates will open at 11:30 a.m., while the first race of the day is set for 12:45 p.m.
“Family Fun Days” are scheduled for every Sunday until Labor Day. Monmouth Park offers activities on the track from noon to 4 p.m.
The $1 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds is set for July 29. Before being moved to the last Sunday in July this year, the Grade 1 Haskell was traditionally held on the first Sunday in August.
According to trainer Michael Matz, the road to becoming the 3-year-old champion goes through Monmouth Park and the Haskell Invitational. Matz is the trainer of Union Rags and he said the next race for his horse will be the Jim Dandy at Saratoga, N.Y., on July 28 or the Haskell Invitational on July 29 at Monmouth Park.
“I will have to make a decision,” Matz said in a Monmouth Park press release. “I would imagine, though, that if you are trying to be the 3-year-old champion, you have to run in the Grade I races and that would be the Haskell.”
Union Rags is the son of 2000 Haskell Invitational winner Dixie Union. He has won five of eight career starts. His only off the board finish came in the Kentucky Derby, where he checked in seventh after a troubled trip. Union Rags has banked nearly $1.8 million for owner Chadds Ford Stable.
Already committed to a start in the mileand an-eighth Haskell Invitational are Bodemeister, who was the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and Dullahan, the winner of the Blue Grass Stakes who was third in the Kentucky Derby.
Bodemeister is trained by Bob Baffert, who has won the last two Haskells and five overall. Baffert won with Coil last year and with Lookin’At Lucky in 2010.
The Haskell card will include a slate of other races, including the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher and Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes and Matchmaker Stakes. Three additional races, each with a $100,000 purse, are also slated.
July opened at Monmouth Park with the $60,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes on July 1. Blue Heaven Farm’s Maple Forest battled early with My Sunshine Gal before putting away that foe and reporting home a lengthand a-half winner. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Maple Forest covered the six furlongs over a fast main track in 1:10.84 and returned $5.20, $4 and $2.40. My Sunshine Gal completed the $28.40 exacta and paid $5.40 and $3.20. It was another 3½ lengths back to post-time favorite Beat the Blues, who paid $2.10 to show.
“I’m glad this filly likes me,” said winning jockey Joe Bravo. “I’ve ridden her four times with three wins and one second. She’s just one fast filly and did it so easily today. She was just cruising and I could have pushed the button whenever I wanted.”
Sunday’s stakes score was the second in a row for Maple Forest, a 4-year-old filly by Forestry from the American Chance mare Maple Syrple. She now sports a lifetime record of 5-5-1 from 13 starts, good for earnings of $264,066.
Bravo’s “four-bagger” started in the fourth race with Admiral Perry ($6.60) before a natural hat-trick in races eight (Dubai Time, $7), nine (Escrow Kid, $6) and the 10th race stakes.
On June 30, Silver Screamer moved to the lead turning for home and held off all challengers to capture the Grade 3 $100,000 Eatontown Stakes by a length-and-a-half as Live Oak Plantation’s Successful Song cruised home to a 3¼-length score in the $75,000 Lighthouse Stakes.
Owned by M. Imperio and Bill Elias Stables LLC, Silver Screamer covered the mile-and-a-sixteenth over firm turf in 1:40.41 and paid $11.40, $5.20 and $3.80. Heavenly Landing rallied to complete the $62.40 exacta and paid $4.80 and $3.60. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Unbridled Humor, who paid $3 to show.
“We wanted to be close to the pace,” said winning jockey Jose Espinoza. “This was the first time I’ve ridden her and she showed me a lot of class. She showed she could run against anyone today.”
Conditioned by Rudy Rodriguez, Silver Screamer has won two of her three starts this year and is now six for 12 lifetime. The 4-year-old filly by Cozzene out of West Sider, by Gone West has earned $230,495.
In the mile-and-a-sixteenth Lighthouse, contested over a fast main track, Successful Song battled early before letting Cascabella take command down the backstretch. Turning for home, Successful Song moved inside that rival and kicked clear for the open length victory.
Trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., Successful Song stopped the timer in 1:46.22 and returned $12.60, $5.40 and $3.60. Cascabella completed the $99 exacta and paid $10 to place and $6.80 to show. It was another 7¾ lengths back to Daring Reality, who rallied to pay $3.80 to show.
Races at Monmouth Park are scheduled every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July. Races will be held every Thursday through Sunday starting Aug. 9. More information about Monmouth Park and this summer’s race schedule can be found on the track’s website at monmouthpark.com.