Archive for October 2020

Softer Spot Helps Premier Star Find Winner’s Circle In Jersey Shore

If Premier Star’s solid showing in his last race wasn’t enough to convince trainer Michael Trombetta that the colt was sitting on a breakout performance, his recent works erased any doubts.

Those two indicators proved to be spot on.

Able to squeeze through an opening after three-eighths of a mile to take the lead, Premier Star powered his way to an impressive 4 3/4-length victory in Wednesday’s $100,000 Jersey Shore Stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.

One race after finishing four lengths behind Yaupon, a top contender for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint trained by Steve Asmussen, and two lengths behind multiple Grade 1 winner Basin in the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga on Aug. 29, Premier Star dispatched his six rivals with ease.

Winning time for the six furlongs was a sharp 1:09.61.

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“This horse has trained really well,” said Trombetta. “I was a little concerned when (Paco) squeezed up the inside and it looked like he might have room, and then you’re thinking maybe not, but he was able to get through and grab the spot and the lead, which he wanted. He’s a pretty fast horse. These type of horses don’t like to be checked or steadied. They just don’t recover from that a lot of times. I’m glad (Paco) was able to make it work.

“As tough as his last race was and as well as he ran in my mind that day they still have to run. Every horse race is a different race. A lot of things have to go right to win them. Today was his day.”

Owned by Sonata Stable, the son of Tapiture improved to 4-for-7 lifetime with his first stakes score. Longshot Johnny Ritt held second, a neck ahead of Meru.

Lopez made the winning move by squeezing through an opening down the backside as Johnny Ritt and As Seen On TV dueled through an opening quarter of :22.09, with Premier Star just off of them.

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“He’s a big horse and a couple of them broke faster than he did but he was running once he got going,” said Lopez. “I guess it was about the three-eighths that I had to decide to go outside or inside and I saw room on the rail and I took and he went right to the lead. He was very strong today.”

Once Premier Star made the lead he started extending his advantage through an opening half in :44.74. He returned $4.20 to win.

“I knew he ran against some monsters last race but I was surprised the instructions were to send him. But they know him. They know how he likes to race,” said Lopez. “Once he made the lead no one was catching him.”

Premier Star now has two wins and a third in the four starts for Trombetta, who took over the horse’s training from Jorge Navarro this spring.

Racing resumes at Monmouth Park with a 10-race card on Saturday, Oct. 17. First race post time is 12:50 p.m. ET.

8-Year-Old Almanaar Repeats In Monmouth Stakes Off Lengthy Layoff

Despite being idle for more than 16 months Almanaar reinforced two well-known beliefs in Saturday’s Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. One is that age is just a number. The other is that trainer Chad Brown has the rare ability to have a turf horse ready no matter how long it has been between races.

Almanaar made his 8-year-old debut a winning one in capturing the Monmouth Stakes for the second straight year, rallying stoutly from next-to-last after three quarters of a mile to give Brown a 1-2 finish in the $150,000 feature race on the 11-race card.

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The gelded son of Dubawi, who rolled home one length ahead of stablemate Serve the King in the nine-furlong turf stakes, had last raced on May 25, 2019, at Monmouth Park when he won the Monmouth Stakes, then a Grade 2. Prior to that race, his only start in 2019, he had been idle for four months.

None of that mattered as the 3-2 favorite in the field of nine 3-year-olds and up used his strong late kick to overpower the field.

Serve the King finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Bal Harbour.

“He has been training well at Belmont the whole time,” said Luis Cabrera, who oversees Brown’s string at Monmouth Park. “The guys there really like the way he has been training. So he has been doing well. These type of horses know what to do. They know where the wire is. So you don’t worry about the layoff with those types. And he has a lot of class. We know that.

“He ran great. I’m very happy with his performance. I can’t say I’m surprised because this horse has been training consistently. He has not missed a work. He was fit and he was ready. Chad always makes sure the horses are 100 percent ready to run.”

Owned by Shadwell Stable, Almanaar won for the eighth time in 21 career starts, a record that includes a victory on the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in 2017.

Though far back in the field early, jockey Joe Bravo said he knew exactly what he was sitting on and tried to be patient through fractions of :48.82 to the half, 1:12.93 to three quarters and 1:37.31 for the opening mile.

The final time for the nine furlongs over a firm turf course was 1:49.22

It was just two weeks ago that Brown trainees finished 1-2 in the $100,000 Violet Stakes on the grass at Monmouth Park, with She’s Got You winning off a 12-week layoff.

“Only Chad Brown does this. He’s amazing,” said Bravo. “This is the second time this year that he has done this in a stakes race at Monmouth Park by winning off a long layoff. (This is) an old horse but he’s a trouper. He’s so strong and powerful that I just wanted to give him some daylight turning for home. Class prevailed.”

Almanaar paid $5.00 to win, boosting his career earnings to $900,349.

After the opening half mile, and even after three quarters had been run, Almanaar had just one horse beat until he made his explosive move coming out of the turn, overhauling Bal Harbour while having more than enough in reserve to hold off Serve the King.

Racing resumes at Monmouth Park with a special eight-race holiday card on Monday, Oct. 12, with the $100,000 Born to Run Stakes for 2-year-olds serving as the feature. First race post is 12:50 p.m.

Wicked Whisper, Bravo Team Up For Miss Preakness Stakes Victory

Winless since her victory in the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park nearly one year ago, Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Wicked Whisper got a ground-saving trip from Joe Bravo, came off the rail at the furlong pole, then ran down frontrunning Ain’t No Elmers to win Saturday’s Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.

Ain’t No Elmers finished second, beaten one length after setting all the fractions, with Sound Machine third, another three-quarters of a length back, and 1-2 favorite Mundaye Call fourth in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies.

Wicked Whisper ran the six furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.36 and paid $12.60 for the win, her third in six career starts.

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Trained by Steve Asmussen, Wicked Whisper is from the first crop by Liam’s Map out of the Bernardini mare Zayanna. She was bred in Kentucky by Siena Farms and sold for $500,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Fly On Angel and Angel Cruz broke on top, but Gabriel Saez sent Ain’t No Elmers through on the inside to take command in the run down the backstretch, the opening quarter mile in :23.08. Wicked Whisper sat just behind the top pair on the inside after a half mile in :45.78, awaiting racing room as the field turned into the stretch.

A patient Bravo swung Wicked Whisper off the rail when seeing an opening after five furlongs in :57.97, and the Liam’s Map filly took command from Ain’t No Elmers in the final sixteenth of a mile to win going away.

“You just can’t draw them up to be any better than that,” said Bravo. “She broke good. The only thing I was really told was ‘make sure you pay attention to her leaving the gate. She’s been having trouble getting away from there.’ When she broke so cleanly it was like the pressure got off me. She was able to breathe around the turn. I know the ‘5’ horse (Mundaye Call) is a very good filly, but all horses relaxed and it just gave me all the confidence.”

Mundaye Call raced in the clear to the outside of Wicked Whisper for the opening three furlongs, made a three-wide bid on the turn and lacked any stretch punch.

Wicked Whisper captured the 2019 Frizette after a stylish debut at Saratoga, winning a maiden special weight race by 6 1/4 lengths. She ran fifth at 7-2 in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to wrap up her 2019 campaign, then finished a well-beaten fourth going seven furlongs in the G3 Beaumont Stakes on July 10 in her 2020 debut at Keeneland. Wicked Whisper ran a good second to Fly On Angel in most recent start, the G3 Charles Town Oaks on Aug. 28, then returned to the Asmussen stable in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to train up to the Miss Preakness.

“She’s been definitely interrupted by this year’s racing calendar,” said Asmussen. “She was getting ready late for things and then with the cancellations, we got off track. It’s beautiful to see her show the quality that she’s always had. Joe gave her a great trip today. There are big things in her future.”

Trainer Bret Calhoun said the inside post position did not work in Ain’t No Elmers’ favor.

“It probably wasn’t the best post to have, but she ran great and did everything to win,” Calhoun said. “She got pressed the whole way and that’s the difference between an inside and outside post and being a presser instead of a pressee.”

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