Archive for July 2016


StonetasticOCEANPORT, N.J. – Stonetastic rebounded from an uncharacteristic performance in her last race to score an easy victory in the $80,500 Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

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With Paco Lopez back aboard, Stonetastic outsprinted Bustin Out for the early lead, and then simply galloped off to 6 3/4-length win. The Monmouth strip was playing quick on Saturday – a New Jersey-bred maiden sprint winner went a quarter-mile in 21.90 seconds and a half in 44.79 – but Stonetastic effortlessly laid down fractions of 21.68, 43.69, and 55.64 en route to a final six-furlong clocking of 1:08.37.

Stonetastic paid $2.80 as a heavy favorite in the five-horse field. Bustin Out held on for second while finishing 3 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place Sky Gold.

Trainer Kelly Breen said he will now point Stonetastic to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, a race in which she finished eighth last year and fourth in 2014. The $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint will be held Nov. 5 at Santa Anita – the same location as in 2014.

Stonetastic, a 5-year-old mare owned by Stoneway Farm, is a two-time Grade 2 winner, having won the Inside Information at Gulfstream Park in March and the Prioress at Saratoga in 2014. She finished second in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 7.

“This will most likely be her last year,” Breen said. “It would be nice for both her and for me to get her a Grade 1 win. I’ve only won one myself.”

Breen won the Belmont Stakes with Ruler On Ice in 2011.

Breen said he had several races under consideration as a bridge to the Breeders’ Cup. He realizes that Stonetastic will have to go a furlong farther in the Breeders’ Cup than she did on Saturday.

“The key is to stretch her out to seven-eighths,” Breen said. “She can’t go 43 and change and get the extra furlong.”

In her start prior to the Regret, Stonetastic faded to fourth in a seven-furlong no-conditions allowance at Parx after going way too fast early. Stonetastic was pushed along on the lead by Disco Chick, a fast filly in her own right, that day while cutting out splits of 21.57 and 43.62. She was beaten 2 3/4 lengths while weakening in the final furlong.

Stonetastic won the Inside Information at seven furlongs but overall is 1 for 7 at the distance. She certainly could have gotten another furlong Saturday as Lopez was sitting still on her in the stretch.


APIndianSARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Arnaud Delacour pulled off two career milestones for the price of one, winning his first Grade 1 race and first race of any type at Saratoga after A.P. Indian rallied from just off the pace to a one-length decision over Holy Boss in Saturday’s $350,000 Vanderbilt.

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A.P. Indian benefitted from a perfectly orchestrated ride by jockey Joe Bravo, who allowed the 6-year-old son of Indian Charlie to stalk the early pace set, as expected, by Delta Bluesman. A. P. Indian launched his bid from between horses in company with tepid favorite Holy Boss approaching the stretch, dueled with that one to the sixteenth pole before ultimately proving clearly best.

Holy Boss rallied three wide to join the leaders on the final bend, raced in company, lapped on the winner through mid-stretch but was not quite good enough. He in turn finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Catalina Red, who rallied mildly to be third.

The win was the fourth in as many starts this year for A.P. Indian, who became a graded stakes winner for the first time in his previous start when winning the Grade 3 Belmont Sprint. He is also a perfect three for three since teaming with Bravo for the first time earlier this spring.

A.P. Indian, a homebred owned by Green Lantern Stables LLC, completed six furlongs in 1:08.25, just .21 seconds off Speightstown’s 12-year course record, and paid $11.40.

“I thought he really fit quite well with these horses,” Delacour said. “Knowing he’s in very good form right now, we thought we had a very good shot. He’s always had a lot of little problems throughout his career, minor setbacks, but all the time he comes back even stronger.”

Delacour said he’s unclear what might be next for A.P. Indian, with the Grade 1, seven-furlong Forego, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, among his options later in the meet.

“We’ll see how he comes back, but it’s asking a lot after coming back in three weeks today and having run three weeks before that,” Delacour said. “But we’ll see.”


A.P.IndianELMONT, N.Y. – It’s a huge jump from winning the Donald LeVine Memorial at Parx, even winning it two years in a row, to defeating a field that included four-time Grade 1 winner Private Zone in a race like the Grade 3 Belmont Sprint Championship. But trainer Arnaud Delacour accomplished that feat on Saturday with A. P. Indian, who outgamed another Grade 1 performer, Marking, by a head to upset the Sprint Championship and become a graded stakes winner for the first time.

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A .P. Indian, who has won the majority of his races on the lead, altered tactics under jockey Joe Bravo for the seven-furlong Sprint Championship, rating behind the pacesetting Private Zone while saving ground into the stretch. A.P. Indian engaged Marking for command nearing the furlong grounds, was angled well off the fence by Bravo for the stretch drive, edged clear, and then maintained a narrow advantage to the wire to register his eighth victory in 14 starts.

Marking, runner-up to champion sprinter Runhappy in the Grade 1 Malibu to conclude his 2015 campaign, stalked the pace from the outset while racing in what appeared to be the better footing well off the rail over the main track here Saturday. Marking got on even terms for the lead in early stretch, continued on willingly upon being passed by the winner nearing the eighth pole, but was not quite good enough. It was another 4 1/4 lengths farther back to Ready for Rye, who finished a tiring third.

Private Zone, runner-up in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, showed his usual speed while making his first start since finishing a disappointing fifth more than seven months ago in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. Private Zone, the 6-5 favorite in the Sprint Championship, was a bit headstrong setting early splits of 22.66 and 45.33 seconds for the opening half-mile, fanned wide while taken on by Marking leaving the final turn, but had little left after six furlongs. He ultimately finished fourth, six lengths behind the winner, while not switching off his left lead until near the end.

Green Gratto, Nubin Ridge, and Roxbury N Overton rounded out the complete order of finish. Anchor Down and Joking were scratched earlier in the day.

A. P. Indian, a homebred son of Indian Charlie owned by Green Lantern Stable, covered seven furlongs in 1:21.41 and returned $13.80.

“Obviously it was a huge performance,” Delacour said by phone shortly after the race. “I usually leave the options up to the rider and Joe did a great job, keeping him covered up, and he extended away in the stretch.”


AngelaAngela Renee scored her first stakes victory on Monday at Monmouth Park since winning the Grade 1 Chandelier at Santa Anita as a 2-year-old in 2014.

Angela Renee went winless in five starts as a 3-year-old last season. She topped the Fasig-Tipton November sale in Kentucky when the Don Alberto Stable bought her for $3 million. By Bernardini out of the mare Pilfer, Angela Renee is a full sister to the stallion To Honor and Serve, a multiple Grade 1 winner of $1.8 million. Angela Renee had previously been owned by her breeder, Sienna Farm.

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On Monday, in the $111,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes, jockey Paco Lopez took a hard hold of Angela Renee and tracked pacesetting Genre. Lopez moved Angela Renee closer on the far turn of the mile and 70-yard race, took the lead from Genre entering the stretch, and drew off to a two-length victory.

Angela Renee, who is now trained by Chad Brown, paid $5.60 as the favorite in the eight-horse field. She was timed in 1:40.77, and is now 4 for 14 in her career with earnings of $578,250.

Genre held second by a nose over her Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate Eskendereya, the narrow 3-1 second choice over Genre. It was 1 1/4 lengths back to High Ridge Road in fourth.

Joint Return broke slowly, lodged a four-wide bid on the far turn, and then flattened out in the stretch to finish fifth.


Joe-Bravo1It was a busy weekend for veteran rider Joe Bravo as he won three stakes races at three different tracks on his way to being honored as the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week Award for June 13th to June 19th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.

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Bravo got the ball rolling on Saturday afternoon when he rode just one mount on the card at Parx and captured the featured sixth race, the $100,000 Donald Levine Memorial Stakes aboard A.P. Indian. Bravo then hopped on a plane to Louisville where he would later guide 9-1 shot Bradester to a wire-to-wire win in the Grade 1 $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap under the lights at Churchill Downs.

“He’s a pretty fun horse. He does all the hard work for you,” Bravo said. “He kind of reminds me of his father Lion Heart, who I rode in the Haskell. I just kind of rode him like his dad and you saw what he did today.”

On Sunday, back at his home base of Monmouth Park, “Jersey Joe” would guide Donegal Moon to his first graded stakes victory in the Grade 3 $100,000 Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds.

The Pegasus win for trainer Todd Pletcher would cap off a great weekend of riding for Bravo who began his career in 1988. The 45 year-old Jersey native has dominated that state’s racing scene since the early 90’s, winning nine riding titles at The Meadowlands and 13 titles at Monmouth Park.

The last couple of years have been a renaissance of sorts for Bravo who tallied 17 graded victories last season and is on pace for another stellar season with seven graded stakes wins in 2016.

For the week, Bravo won four times from his nine mounts with one second placing and led all North American riders with $474,960 in earnings.

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LopezJockey Paco Lopez was on fire this weekend as he won 11 races at Monmouth Park highlighted by a victory in the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes. That weekend performance helped him claim the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for June 20th to June 26th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.

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The four-time Monmouth Park leading rider would begin his hot streak on Saturday by winning four of the first seven races at Monmouth Park. Lopez then capped off the five-win day by piloting the favored Isabella Sings to a wire-to-wire win the featured Eatontown Stakes.

“I just wanted to break sharp and see where she placed herself,” Lopez said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of speed in the race and she was nice and relaxed in front. She was just the best horse in the race.”

Lopez, the 2008 Eclipse award winner for Outstanding Apprentice, would do one better on Sunday afternoon beginning with an early triple after wining the third, fourth, and fifth races. He would then go on to win the eighth and ninth races followed by his sixth win of the day aboard Secretive Lady in the nightcap.

The 29 year-old native of Tierra Blanca, Mexico currently sits atop of the Monmouth rider standings, with 48 wins from 128 starts for a 38 percent win percentage. Leading all North American riders in number of wins for the week, Lopez won with 13 of his 28 mounts and added another five seconds and four third place finishes.

Follow Lopez on Twitter.


PacoJockey Paco Lopez piloted six mounts into the winner’s enclosure at Monmouth Park on Sunday, vaulting him even higher atop the rider standings at the New Jersey oval. Lopez rode in 10 races on the card, finishing third three times and fourth once with his other mounts on the day.

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Lopez’s success began in the third race, when he piloted Sheikh and Sleek to a maiden special weight victory for Eddie Plesa, Jr. He completed a natural hat trick, including the fourth and fifth races, winning with Patrick McBurney’s Miss Bob and J. Thompson’s Julia Chubouli. Lopez’s next victory came in the eighth race aboard Jason Servis’ Blue Bahia, then he won the ninth with Hugh McMahon’s Banana Anna. Lopez closed out the day with a win in the 11th race aboard Kathleen Demasi’s Secretive Lady.

Currently, Lopez sits well on top of the Monmouth rider standings, with 48 wins from 128 starts for a 38 percent win percentage, according to


IsabellaIsabella Sings won her second stakes of the Monmouth Park meet on Saturday, leading her six rivals on a merry chase from beginning to end in the Grade 3 Eatontown.

Isabella Sings had shown a new dimension by winning the May 29 Miss Liberty Stakes from off the pace. But on Saturday, jockey Paco Lopez took the lead in the $103,000 Eatontown, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, and never looked back, winning by three lengths.

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Isabella Sings is now 6-for-15 for her owner-breeder, Sienna Farms. She is trained by Todd Pletcher, who is 14-for-37 at the meet and only three wins behind leading trainer Jorge Navarro.

“Todd told me to tell Paco to try and get to the front, unlike last time, and he had the same idea already in mind,” said Anthony Sciametta, Pletcher’s Monmouth-based assistant.

Lopez, who holds a commanding lead in the Monmouth rider standings, won five races on Saturday.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of speed in the race and she was nice and relaxed in front,” Lopez said. “She was just the best horse in the race.”

Isabella Sings paid $2.80 in the seven-horse field, and was timed in 1:40.57, after setting fractions of 23.09, 47.03, 1:10.42, and 1:34.49. A 4-year-old daughter of Eskendereya, she is now 6-for-15 with earnings of $451,950. Three of Isabella Sings’s four career stakes wins have come at Monmouth.

Sea Coast, trained by Christophe Clement, ran a strong race to be second. She was forced to stead and await on the far turn and then split horses in the stretch. She finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Bureau de Change, trained by Brian Lynch, who lodged a bid four wide on the turn.


Joe-BravoOCEANPORT – What can you say about a jockey who won 13 riding titles at Monmouth Park and more races than anyone ever has in 71 years of racing there, other than that Joe Bravo was a Jersey Shore phenomenon.

But at age 44, Bravo, who burst onto the scene with a retina-shredding brightness in 1991, has morphed into something completely different at this stage of his career, emerging as one of the country’s top big-race riders.

“That was a dream last summer. A rider’s dream,’’ he said. “Ninety percent of the time I would be sitting on the plane and questioning myself, `Did that just happen?’ ”

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Bravo won a career-best 17 graded stakes races in 2015, including a run of six Grade 1 victories that began with the United Nations on July 5 at Monmouth Park aboard Big Blue Kitten, and ended with his ride on Greenpointcrusader in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 2. He had never won more than 10 graded stakes in any previous year.

Bravo ranked 17th nationally with his mounts earning $8.4 million, while only Victor Espinoza and Mike Smith finished with fewer mounts than Bravo’s 509.

So is Bravo a better rider now than he was, say, 22 years ago, when he won a record 145 races at Monmouth Park one summer?

“I definitely am a better rider,’’ he said. “I’ve seen a lot of things happen since then, and you learn something every day out here. I’m just thankful I’m still able to be out here doing it and have had some really good horses to ride.’’

By any measurable, Chad Brown is one of the top trainers in the country. And his decision to put Bravo in the saddle on Big Blue Kitten last year paid huge dividends.

In addition to the United Nations, the Calumet Farm runner won the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the Grade 3 Fort Marcy, while finishing second in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap and third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

“What you find with Joe Bravo now is that he’s got a lot of experience and he’s very patient,’’ said Brown. “And after the race he gives you great feedback that helps you move the horse forward, and that’s important.

“Basically, Joe has been a really solid rider for us and a really good fit for us last year.’’

Not much has changed this year.

Bravo already has four graded stakes wins, including a Grade 1 victory aboard Sheer Drama in the Madison Stakes at Keeneland. Last summer he won the Delaware Handicap and the Personal Ensign Stakes, both Grade 1’s, with Sheer Drama.

He got his Monmouth Park meet started by guiding Bradester home first in the $75,000 Majestic Light Stakes on Saturday.

“The thing about it hasn’t been the same thing over and over,’’ Bravo said. “The races were all different. On the turf, sprints, races going a distance.

“In a way, it’s the same every year for every rider, just wanting to hold onto it. I’m just thankful for the Hall of Fame people around me. I’m blessed to be working with some of the top guys in the business.’’

He’s doing a lot more than just holding on. In fact, trainers seem to covet Bravo’s skill set nowadays when it comes to their top runners, far more than they did when he was winning four and five races a day.

And don’t we all wish we could transition into middle age that smoothly.


Donegal-MoonOCEANPORT, N.J. – Donegal Moon scored his first career stakes win in the Pegasus at Monmouth Park on Sunday while 1-5 favorite Unified suffered the first loss of his career in the Grade 3 race.

The 1 1/16-mile Pegasus was supposed to serve as a two-turn test for Unified, with his connections hoping he would be able to settle off the pace before mounting a bid. Everything seemed to be going according to plan early as Jose Ortiz placed Unified in third position on the outside behind front-running Saratoga Jack and Abiding Star, who was tracking the leader.

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But when Ortiz called on Unified at the three-eighths pole he did not get the response he wanted. Unified tired in the final quarter-mile and finished fifth, beaten 13 1/2 lengths.

“He broke good from the gate and was sitting in good position,” Ortiz said. “He was going well for the first half-mile to five-eighths but when I asked him at the three-eighths he just didn’t have it.”

Unified, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, came into the $150,000 Pegasus 3 for 3 in his career with wins in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park, the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct, and in a Gulfstream Park maiden race.

“It looked like he was sitting fine early behind those two horses on the lead and then he backed out of there,” Jerkens said. “The track is slow here today. You don’t expect that at Monmouth. It’s faster up at home.”

It was a tough weekend for Jerkens, who on Saturday night finished sixth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs with Effinex, the 3-5 favorite.

Unified is owned by a Centennial Farms partnership. Don Little Jr., the head of Centennial, said he thought Unified may have been a bit revved up before the race.

“He was a little geared up in the paddock and on the way to the gate I thought,” Little said. “We’ll just have to regroup and go on from here.”

When Unified failed to fire, the Pegasus instantly turned into a wide-open race. Saratoga Jack set the pace to the stretch through fractions of 23.70 seconds, 47.63, and 1:11.78 before yielding to Awesome Slew.

Donegal Moon, who is trained by Todd Pletcher, trailed in the seven-horse field early. He advanced along the inner rail on the far turn under Joe Bravo, angled outward for the drive, took the lead in midstretch, and finished best to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

Extinct Charm, a 28-1 longshot, lodged his bid four wide on the far turn and was up to beat Awesome Slew for second by a neck in deep stretch. It was seven lengths back to Saratoga Jack in fourth and then another five lengths back to Unified.

Donegal Moon paid $15 to win. He was timed in 1:44.15.

The Pegasus was Bravo’s third stakes win of the weekend. On Saturday, he won the $100,000 Donald LeVine Memorial at Park Racing with A. P. Indian and then flew to Kentucky, where he won the $500,000 Foster on Bradester.

“Todd texted me earlier and the instructions worked out perfectly,” Bravo said of the Pegasus. “There was so much early speed in the race and the race set up great for us. In the stretch, he really came running strongly. This was a fun two days.”

Donegal Moon is now 3 for 11 in his career. He had previously won a maiden race at Keeneland last fall and an allowance race at Parx in March. He has now earned $199,252.

Monmouth attendance tops 20,000

Father’s Day is one of the biggest attendance days of the Monmouth Park season, second only to the Haskell Invitational card. On Sunday, the announced crowd was 20,342.

A total of $898,243 was bet on-track Sunday, and another $2,873,220 was bet off-track. All-sources handle for the day was $3,771,463.

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