Archive for May 2012

Paco Lopez wins 5 races(including Skip Away stakes aboard “Pants On Fire”)@ Monmouth Park

Oceanport, N.J. — Pants On Fire rewarded his backers who sent him off as the 2-5 favorite, taking the $75,000 Skip Away Stakes by a length as Malibu Way captured the $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

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Racing in the colors of George and Lori Hall, Pants On Fire sat off early fractions of :23 2/5 for the quarter and :47 for the half-mile before assuming command at the head of the stretch and holding off the late challenge of Norman Asbjornson.

“He broke well from the gate, but when the dirt started hitting him in the face, he didn’t really like it,” said winning jockey Paco Lopez, who rode five winners on Monmouth’s Saturday card. “Around the 5/8ths pole I made a little move and then ran into traffic around the 3/8ths. I was able to find a little hole and he ran right through. He was the best horse in the race. I knew the second horse was coming, but he was never going to get by us.”

Pants On Fire, returned $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10 and topped the $6.60 exacta. Norman Asbjornson returned $2.80, $2.20. It was another 4 ½ lengths back to Cactus Charlie, who paid $6.60 to show.

“It wasn’t as easy a race as the 2-5 odds showed,” said winning trainer Kelly John Breen. “I did not give much in the way of instructions to Paco, I just told him to ride his race. On paper, and the way the race unfolded he had to earn it. It was a good race for him. We’ll look at the Monmouth Cup (Grade 2 on July 7 at one mile here). It’s our home track and the Halls support Monmouth Park, so that’s likely our next start.”

Pants On Fire stepped the mile and a sixteenth over the fast main track in 1:43.56 as he earned his second victory of the year. The 4-year-old colt by Jump Start from the Cape Town mare Cabo de Noche has now banked $933,060 for his connections.
In the $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes, Lael Stable’s Malibu Way overcame a pedestrian pace on a turf course rated “good” and made a bold run through the stretch to wear down Heavy Breathing right before the wire and prevailed by a neck.

Ridden by Joe Bravo, the Christophe Clement-trainee was making only his third career start and his first try in stakes company. Dispatched as the 2-1 second choice in the field of seven 3-year-olds, Malibu Way covered the mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.1 and returned $6.60, $3 and $2.60. Heavy Breathing, the odds-on favorite, paid $2.60 and $2.20 and completed the $14.80 exacta. It was another length and a half back to Crafty Unicorn, who paid $3.40 to show.

“They were pretty confident with this horse when he ran at Gulfstream this year,” said Bravo. “I rode him with that confidence knowing he’s had a little more experience today. Turning for home, I was saying to myself, ‘Thank God I’m sitting on this horse.’

He’s very talented and it looks like he’s got a bright future.”

Malibu Way, by First Samurai out of the Red Ransom mare Redmond, now has two wins and one second from three lifetime starts. The stakes win was the second in two tries for Clement-trained horses so far this meet.

Live racing continues at Monmouth on Sunday, May 27 – gates open 11:30 a.m., first post 12:50 p.m.

Corporate Jungle riden by Paco Lopez wins Elkwood Stakes

Paco LopezCorporate Jungle took advantage of a quick early pace and then rallied in deep stretch for a thrilling victory in the $75,000 Elkwood Stakes while conceding six pounds to each of his seven rivals in the field.

Sent off the 3-5 favorite and carrying top weight of 123 pounds including jockey Paco Lopez, the four-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway sat behind fractions of :22 3/5, :45 4/5, and 1:09 set by Successful Mission with Get Serious close behind. Lopez moved Corporate Jungle into striking distance at the three-eights pole and then the four-year-old colt took command inside the sixteenth pole as he covered the one mile distance in 1:32 3/5 over the firm turf.

Successful Mission, the 2011 winner of the Elkwood with Chuck Lopez aboard, was one-half length back and Get Serious and jockey Pablo Fragoso were only another half-length behind. Gourmet Dinner closed strongly from far back and was a head back to take fourth and round out the Superfecta.

“I rode him like he was much the best. I had plenty of horse the whole way around,” said Lopez. I’m glad we were on the outside. Elvis (Trujillo, the rider of Presious Passion) had a little trouble with his horse up the backstretch. I went a little wide turning for home, but I knew I had the winner. He did it all pretty easily.”

Corporate Jungle, owned by Gary and Mary West and trained by Chad Brown, won his second consecutive stakes race and the fourth race in his last five starts. He improved his lifetime record to 4-1-0 from seven starts and upped his earnings to $172,260 with the winner’s share of the purse.

Corporate Jungle returned $3.40, $2.40, and $2.20 while Successful Mission paid $5.60 and $4 to place and Gourmet Dinner paid $6.60 to show. The exacta returned $18.40.

Beau Choix finished fifth while Get Serious faded to sixth, followed by Presious Passion and Concealed Identity.

Live racing continues at Monmouth Park on Sunday – gates open 11:30 a.m., first post 12:50 p.m

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Paco Lopez to have surgery

Paco Lopez will undergo surgery Thursday at Aventura Hospital in Hallandale Fla. to repair a displaced fracture of the left clavicle suffered in a spill in the final race at Gulfstream Park on March 17.

Lopez had originally been diagnosed with six broken ribs and a fractured collarbone that doctors said would take four to six weeks to heal without surgery. But after undergoing additional X-rays and conferring with two specialists earlier this week, Lopez was informed the fracture was displaced and required surgery.

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“After reading the X-rays the doctors said his injury would heal quicker with surgery,” said Cory Moran, Lopez’s agent. “The prognosis is for a complete recovery that could take anywhere from five to six more weeks.”

Prior to his injury, Lopez, the Gulfstream Park riding champion in 2010 and 2011, had planned on riding at Keeneland and then moving on to Churchill Downs at the conclusion of the current Gulfstream meet. Moran said he is now targeting May 12, opening day at Monmouth Park, for his return.

Lopez is the regular rider of Force Freeze, runner-up in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Lopez rode Force Freeze to an impressive victory in his 2012 debut in Gulfstream’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Handicap and was hoping to be back in time to be aboard for his next start scheduled in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.

“At the moment, it doesn’t look like Paco will be back in time to ride Force Freeze in his next start,” Moran said.

Trainer Peter Walder said Wednesday he’s secured the services of Rafael Bejarano to ride Force Freeze if Lopez is unavailable for the Churchill Downs.

“Rafael is my back up rider in the likelihood Paco cannot ride Force Freeze in his next start, although the mount remains Paco’s whenever he returns, I’m not going to penalize him because he got hurt,” said Walder. “Rafael has good hands and a similar style as Paco and should fit the horse well.”

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