Archive for August 2013

Hard Enough just good enough to win Restoration

Hard EnoughHard Enough earned a hard-fought victory on Saturday in the $62,400 Restoration Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf at Monmouth Park.

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It was the second straight stakes victory here for the chestnut colt following the Jersey Derby last month. The Restoration was the fourth win on the card for Paco Lopez, the meet’s leading rider.

The Jersey Derby was a relatively easy victory for Hard Enough, a $50,000 claim by trainer Bobby Dibona over the winter at Gulfstream Park. In that race, Hard Enough settled behind the pacesetting Shining Copper before collaring that rival on the final turn.

Shining Copper returned for the Restoration but this time he did not break on top after a bumpy start. That left Hard Enough, stretching out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time, on the lead from the rail.

And he had constant pressure from Dynamic Strike through quick fractions of 22.51, 46.68 and 1:10.74.

“I talked with Paco before the race and I was afraid Shining Copper might not go to front like he did last time,” Dibona said. “I told him to be prepared, and if you’re in front, do what you’ve got to do.”

Turning for home, Hard Enough was still in command, but the pace and the added distance were taking a toll. But Hard Enough was game as the closers swarmed in. He managed to keep his head, and the distinctive white blinkers, barely in front right to the wire in a four-way photo for the win.

“The fractions were fast,” Dibona said. “I was afraid we wouldn’t hang on but he’s just game, very game.”

Michael With Us rallied from seventh to get second, edging Always Curious for the place spot. Chamois, the 2-1 favorite, was fourth.

Hard Enough paid $7.60 to win as the second choice. The time was 1:47.16 over the firm course.

Shining Copper was fifth followed by English Minister, Dynamic Strike and Chollie D.

Flay Mignon wins Colleen Stakes on front end

Flay Mignon and jockey Paco Lopez win the Colleen Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths Sunday.Flay Mignon scored a front-running victory Sunday in the $78,000 Colleen Stakes on the turf at Monmouth Park.

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The Colleen is the prep for the meet’s top stakes for 2-year-old fillies, $100,000 Sorority on Sept. 1. Unlike the Colleen, the Sorority is contested on dirt at six furlongs.

It was the third victory of the day for the meet-leading team of trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. and jockey Paco Lopez.

“It’s been a good day,” Plesa said. “It’s been a good meet.”

Flay Mignon, coupled in the betting with Pray a Novena as the 1-2 favorites, fired right to the front in the five-furlong dash. Jonesin for Jerry, breaking from the outside post in the 10-horse field, went right with her.

They were side-by-side until Flay Mignon pulled clear in the lane for a 1 3/4-length victory. Pure Lady Like, the longest shot in the field at 54-1, came on to get second, with Aibhilin third.

A homebred in New Jersey for Laurie Plesa, the trainer’s wife, Flay Mignon is 2 for 2 in her career. She confidently beat statebreds in her debut on the main track before stepping up to the Colleen.

“I was a little bit concerned about the turf,” Plesa said. “Her sire, Yesbyjimminy, did not like the turf. He’s by Yes It’s True, and they don’t. I was hoping the mother’s part of the pedigree would take over and get her over this turf course.”

The dam is Forest Retreat, by Forest Camp.

Plesa said Flay Mignon and Pray a Novena will be pointed toward the Sorority. The entry paid $3 to win. The time was 56.77 seconds over the firm course.

Sara Bay was fourth, followed by Jonesin for Jerry, Gem City Gal, Pray a Novena, Sara’s Angel, Valerie Victoria and Sensational Value.

Seaneen Girl runs away with Monmouth Oaks

Seaneen Girl, with Paco Lopez riding, picks up her second graded victory by winning the Monmouth Oaks.Seaneen Girl pulled away to a six-length win over Mr Hall’s Opus on Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Monmouth Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

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Seaneen Girl had several advantages heading into the Monmouth Oaks. For starters, she had a wealth of experience. This was her 13th start, easily the tops in the field, and it produced the third victory for the filly, trained by Bernie Flint.

The other edge was the switch back to dirt, where she has done most of her best running. Seaneen Girl was a disappointing sixth in her previous effort over the synthetic strip in the Arlington Oaks.

In the Monmouth Oaks, Seaneen Girl was right on the pace early, closely stalking the pacesetting Makayla’s Angel. Seaneen Girl took charge midway on the final turn, and widened her margin through the lane.

“She’s a super nice filly,” Flint said. “Very sound and very kind.”

The time was 1:44.04 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast track.

Lucky Rag Doll was third, followed by Zenzara, Alli Leigh, Mary Bernice, C C Gold, and Makayla’s Angel, who was disqualified from sixth and placed last for interfering with C C Gold early in the race.

Seaneen Girl paid $4.80 to win.

Yes I’m Lucky scores in Tyro Stakes

Yes I'm Lucky, with Paco Lopez aboard, outlasts stablemate Run for Logistics (left) to win the Tyro Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths Sunday.Yes I’m Lucky broke alertly from the No. 1 post and contested the pace every step of the way in the $59,200 Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday, surviving a stretch duel with stablemate Run for Logistics to win by 1 3/4 lengths and remain undefeated.

Yes I’m Lucky, a $105,000 purchase at Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. in March, is trained by Eddie Plesa Jr. for his wife, Laurie, and Trilogy Stable. He had made both of his prior starts on dirt, winning a $38,000 maiden special weight race by a head at Monmouth on June 2, then wiring the $57,000 Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes by four lengths at Calder on June 22. The colt, out of the Dove Hunt mare Whenthedoveflies, has earned $93,000.

“I was very pleased with the way both my horses ran,” Plesa said. “Yes It’s True horses don’t necessarily like the turf, so I was hoping for his mother’s side to kick in. He ran great. Barring anything unforeseen, they’ll both be back in the Sapling.”

On Sunday, Yes I’m Lucky’s task was made easier when Sweet Emma Rose and Holy Rocker scratched. Sweet Emma Rose, the runner-up in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and the only filly entered for the Tyro, likely would have been favored. Holy Rocker lost by a head to Yes I’m Lucky on June 2 in his only start.

Yes I’m Lucky was the quickest out of the gate Sunday, with his head in front as he was pressured by Run for Logistics and Silvertonguedtommy through a quarter-mile in 22.23 seconds and a half-mile in 45.05. Silvertonguedtommy went very wide around the turn and faded to last, but Yes I’m Lucky and Run for Logistics had plenty left, with Yes I’m Lucky hugging the rail and pulling away in the final furlong.

“He broke sharp, and we were able to get good position,” Lopez said. “I rode this horse before and know him a little bit. I thought he’d be able to handle the turf just fine, and he did today.”

Run for Logistics, ridden by Gabriel Saez for Plesa, entered the race off a front-running, 5 1/2-length score in his only prior start, a $40,000 maiden special weight race at Monmouth on July 7.

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Pants On Fire wins Monmouth Cup; Take Charge Indy injured

Pants on Fire and jockey Paco Lopez win the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup by 1 3/4 lengths Sunday.Pants On Fire pulled a 7-1 upset in the Grade 2, $203,000 Monmouth Cup after odds-on favorite Take Charge Indy was pulled up entering the final turn.

Gary Stevens quickly pulled up the winner of last year’s Grade 1 Florida Derby, and the 4-year-old colt was vanned back to the barn area with a left-front condylar fracture that will require surgery.

“I was having the ride of my life, just having a ball, just cruising, figuring how far I wanted to win by,” Stevens said. “I heard a loud pop at the half-mile pole. He tried to go on, but then he helped me get himself pulled up, a very intelligent horse.”

The dominant winner of the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, Take Charge Indy was trying to bounce back from an inexplicably poor effort in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap last month at Churchill Downs. Everyone, including trainer Patrick Byrne, expected a bounce-back effort from the 7-10 favorite.

But when Take Charge Indy was pulled up, the Monmouth Cup was stunningly up for grabs. Pants On Fire pounced on the opportunity to secure his first graded stakes win since the Grade 3 Pegasus here in 2011.

Pants On Fire beat Hymn Book by 1 3/4 lengths, with Ponzi Scheme third. Paco Lopez was aboard for his fourth win on the afternoon.

Pants On Fire paid $16.20 to win. The time was 1:45.86. Norman Asbjornson was fourth, followed by Small Town Talk and Big Sur.

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Immortal Eyes hangs on to win Teddy Drone

Immortal Eyes, ridden by Paco Lopez, wins the Teddy Drone Stakes by a neck Sunday to improve to 3 for 3 at the current Monmouth Park meet.Immortal Eyes continued his big meet at Monmouth Park on Sunday, winning the $107,000 Teddy Drone, the first of seven stakes on Haskell Day.

The Maryland-based 8-year-old gelding is 3 for 3 at the meet, having earlier won a third-level allowance followed by the Mr. Prospector Stakes.

Speed is his game, and Immortal Eyes, the 3-5 favorite, had his pedal to the metal throughout the six-furlong dash. He fired away from the gate and had immediate pressure from He Can Run as they zipped through an opening quarter-mile in 21.86 seconds.

Immortal Eyes was up to the task, even when He Can Run took one more shot at him, and later when Javerre picked up the chase in the lane. Immortal Eyes dug in to hold off Javerre by a neck in 1:10.82 on the fast track with Paco Lopez aboard for trainer Damon Dilodovico.

“I was bumped a little bit on the backstretch but got to the front,” Lopez said. “Once we got to the stretch, I hit him twice, and he started to move.”

Immortal Eyes paid $3.20 to win. He’s won 16 of his 45 career starts.

He Can Run held on for third, followed by Harbor Breeze, Well Spelled, M P Joe, and Hop Skip and Away.

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