Archive for the ‘General News’ Category.

Jockey Jairo Rendon: Scraps picks up the pieces in Bear’s Den

Come Dancing got a successful prep race in for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by winning Sunday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap by 3 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park.

Click here to read article from DRF.

And while Come Dancing has won four graded stakes in five starts this year, it doesn’t mean trainer Carlos Martin won’t have some tweaking to do between now and Nov. 2.

After sitting behind dueling leaders Carrera Cat and Minit to Stardom through a quarter in 22.54 seconds and a half-mile in 44.99, Come Dancing made the lead in midstretch under Javier Castellano. Shortly after she did, Come Dancing began to lug in toward the rail. She did the same thing when she won the Grade 1 Ballerina last month at Saratoga.

It didn’t cost Come Dancing Sunday, as she was clear of Minit to Stardom who finished second.

Castellano said he wasn’t too concerned about it, but Martin said it will be something he examines between now and the Breeders’ Cup.

“I don’t know, she’s getting some weird habits as she gets older, I’ll go back and take a look and make sure we’re covering all our bases,” Martin said. “I’m not that concerned because I thought she really finished well and galloped out well, but anytime you see a great horse do something with her head or lug in or lug out that gives you some kind of cause to make sure everything’s on the up and up.”

Castellano said he didn’t try to correct Come Dancing from lugging in because he felt she was running well enough and didn’t want to fight her.

“I don’t know if it’s a bad habit or something else,” said Castellano, who noted Come Dancing lugged in during the Ballerina which she won by 3 1/2 lengths. “As soon as she passes horses she sees daylight and lugs in a little bit. I think it’s more of a bad habit than anything else because she did it twice.”

Come Dancing did carry 125 pounds in the Gallant Bloom yet still ran 6 1/2 furlongs in a sharp 1:14.96. She returned $2.50 as the 1-5 favorite.

Come Dancing, a 5-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon owned by Marc Holliday’s Blue Devil Racing Stable, improved her record to 8 for 13 and became a millionaire with career earnings of $1,046,700.

Minit to Stardom finished second by 2 1/4 lengths over Majestic Reason. Carrera Cat and Jc’s Shooting Star completed the order of finish.

While Come Dancing will be headed to the Breeders’ Cup, Martin said he isn’t sure if he would ship her to California early or do all his training here and then ship the week of the race.

Spun to Run game in stretch of Smarty Jones

Trainer Carlos Guerrero has a lot of faith in Spun to Run, which is why he equipped the 3-year-old son of Hard Run with blinkers and ran him in the Grade 1 Haskell, where he finished third behind Maximum Security and Mucho Gusto.

On Monday, in the Grade 3, $300,000 Smarty Jones at Parx, Spun to Run rewarded Guerrero’s confidence with a hard-fought head victory over Gray Magician in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Click here to read article from DRF.

Spun to Run was into the bridle from the start of the Smarty Jones under jockey Paco Lopez, settling into a tracking position along the inside behind Bethlehem Road, Top Line Growth and a three-wide Majid, who did not break sharply. It was several lengths farther back to 8-5 Gray Magician.

Majid began to retreat on the backstretch, and on the far turn Lopez eased Spun to Run up between Bethlehem Road and Top Line Growth. Spun to Run took a short lead nearing the quarter pole as Gray Magician was making a sharp move to the leaders four wide under Corey Lanerie.

Entering the stretch, Gray Magician had all the momentum and took the lead. But Spun to Run wouldn’t quit and began to come on again. Spun to Run and Gray Magician bumped solidly in deep stretch twice as Lopez worked his mount left-handed, and in the end Spun to Run retook the lead.

It was 4 1/2 lengths back from Gray Magician to Top Line Growth in third. After that came Cairo Cat, Bethlehem Road and Majid.

Spun to Run, surprisingly bet down to 3-2, paid $5 as the favorite. He was timed in 1:44.14, following fractions of 23.25, 47.36, 1:11.99, and 1:37.44.

Now 3 for 8, Spun to Run earned $177,900, nearly doubling his income to $360,520.

Cathryn Sophia: Jeltrin pulls away

Jeltrin led throughout to win the $150,000 Cathryn Sophia by 7 3/4 lengths, but the race really wasn’t that simple.

Jeltrin set the early pace while well out from the inner rail in the mile and 70-yard race for 3-year-old fillies. She was joined from the outside on the backstretch by Jennifer’s Dream and 7-10 favorite Fashion Faux Pas. Jennifer’s Dream dropped back nearing the far turn, leaving Jeltrin and Fashion Faux Pas on the lead.

Midway on the far turn, Fashion Faux Pas appeared to lose her action momentarily in her hind legs and was taken up sharply for a second or two by jockey Daniel Centeno.

Fashion Faux Pas did not appear injured, and Centeno commenced riding her again before easing her through the stretch. After the race, Centeno stayed aboard Fashion Faux Pas and brought her back to be unsaddled.

Trainer Arnaud Delacour, a half-hour after the race, said he was “not quite sure what happened but it is possible the filly behind them [Jennifer’s Dream] may have clipped her hind heels or maybe she just lost her action.

“Regardless, I have just watched her walk at the barn and she is doing fine. It is possible we could bring her back in 19 days for the Charles Town Oaks if she is okay.”

When Fashion Faux Pas dropped back on the far turn, it left Jeltrin on a sizable lead, which she lengthened in the stretch.

Grandaria finished second, Queen of Beas was third.

Jeltrin paid $12.20 and was timed in 1:44.18. She is owned and trained by Alexis Delgado.

Pure Sensation survives objections to win Turf Monster

Pure Sensation improved his record over the Parx turf course to 7 victories from 8 starts by winning the Grade 3, $300,000 Turf Monster for the fourth time Monday, but it did not come without a degree of controversy.

Click here to read article from DRF.

Breaking from the outside post in the 11-horse field, jockey Paco Lopez sent Pure Sensation hard from the gate and went to the lead with some horses bumping behind him, including Rocket Heat, who appeared to come inward from post 10, and Amblin Man, who appeared to come out from post 7.

Pure Sensation was joined from the outside by Hollywood Talent on the turn but put him away in the stretch en route to a three-length victory.

Dubini, No. 8, finished second with a good but belated bid and his jockey, Kendrick Carmouche, lodged an objection against Pure Sensation and Lopez for interference after the start. Corey Lanerie, the rider of No. 9 Texas Wedge, who was squeezed back at the start and finished ninth, also lodged an objection against Pure Sensation for interference after the break. The stewards after reviewing the video, disallowed both objections.

Pure Sensation also won the Turf Monster in 2015, 2017, and 2018. He won the Grade 3 Parx Dash in 2016, 2017, and again this season.

Owned by Patricia Generazio and expertly handled throughout his career by trainer Christophe Clement, Pure Sensation, now 8, is 14 for 35 in his career. The $171,000 he earned Monday, pushed his bankroll to $1,968,550.

Pure Sensation paid $3.20 and covered the five furlongs over firm turf in 57.80 seconds. Hollywood Talent finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Dubini.

Chalon runs to her backing in Roamin Rachel Stakes

Chalon lived up to her 4-5 favoritism in the $100,000 Roamin Rachel Stakes at Parx Racing on Monday, slipping through inside the leader, Bronx Beauty, entering the stretch and opening up to win by 1 1/4 lengths. The Roamin Rachel was one of four consecutive MATCH Series races on the Smarty Jones undercard at Parx on Labor Day.

Click here to read article from DRF.

Chalon benefited from a heady ride by Paco Lopez, who stayed to the inner rail around the far turn and into the stretch. The win was the second from four starts on the year for Chalon, who was dropping in class after finishing second in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss and Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses in her two previous races.

Chalon, a 5-year-old daughter of Dialed In, is owned by the Lael Stable of Roy and Gretchen Jackson and trained by Arnaud Delacour.

Now 7 for 17 in her career, Chalon was making her first start in a MATCH Series race this year and will not be eligible for any post-series bonus money. A horse needs to start in at least three legs of the five-race series to be eligible to share in the bonus pool.

Chalon paid $3.80 to win and was timed in 1:11.90. Mess’n Around finished second in the Roamin Rachel, three-quarters of a length ahead of Bronx Beauty in third.

Bronx Beauty earned five MATCH Series points for finishing third and now trails Ms Locust Point, who finished fifth in the Roamin Rachel, by six points in both the overall MATCH standings and in the filly and mare dirt-sprint division. The titles will come down to how Ms Locust Point and Bronx Beauty perform in the final leg of the series, the Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sept. 28.

PTHA President’s Cup: Dynatail refuses to lose

Dynatail scored her second MATCH Series victory of the season in the $100,000 PTHA President’s Cup. If she starts in the final leg of the MATCH filly and mare long-turf series, the Violet Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sept. 28, she will win the division. Dynatail is 2 for 2 in the MATCH Series this year. To qualify for the bonus pool, a horse must start in at least three legs of the series.

Dynatail went right to the lead in the 1 1/16-mile President’s Cup. She was challenged from the outside in earnest by Notapradaprice on the far turn, was headed, then gamely came back on to win by a neck.

Dynatail, a 5-year-old owned by the Ballybrit Stable and trained by Mike Dini, paid $23.60 in the eight-horse lineup. She completed the course in 1:41.93. Dynatail is now 8 for 30 in her career.

Candy Store, who track the leaders early finished third, a half-length behind Notapradaprice.

Bensalem: Engage holds on

Engage took the lead from pacesetting Cowboy Mz in upper stretch, drew clear, then lasted by a half-length over late-running Bon Raison to win the six-furlong Bensalem Stakes. Engage, who was winning for the fourth time in 11 starts, was making his first appearance for trainer Steve Asmussen after formerly being conditioned by Chad Brown.

Cowboy Mz moved up to take a clear lead in the eight-horse field, cut out fractions of 22.27 and 45.45 seconds, but folded up his tent in the final furlong and finished last. Engage, never far back, bid three wide nearing the stretch, and then had just enough left late to hold on under Joe Bravo.

Engage, who is owned by Woodford Racing, paid $11.20 and completed the course in 1:11.48. The Bensalem was the second start of his 4-year-old season.

By finishing third in the $100,000 Bensalem, Laki earned 5 MATCH Series points and increased his lead in the 3-year-olds and up dirt-sprint division. Laki won the division in 2018.

Neshaminy: Abiding Star strongest in stretch

Favored Abiding Star won a stretch-long duel with 2-1 second choice Paret to take the $100,000 Neshaminy Stakes by a neck. The win gives Abiding Star the lead in the MATCH Series 3-year-olds and up turf-sprint division.

To be eligible to earn MATCH series bonus money, Abiding Star will have to start in the final leg of the series, the 5 1/2-furlong Rainbow Heir Stakes at Monmouth on Sept. 28. The Rainbow Heir is at a distance that appears too short for Abiding Star.

Carol Cedeno rode Abiding Star in the Neshaminy for trainer Ned Allard. Abiding Star paid $5.60 in the nine-horse Neshaminy and was timed in 1:29.56 for 7 1/2 furlongs over grass.

Abiding Star, 6, is now 12 for 40 in his career for his breeder, the Stonehedge LLC of Gilbert Campbell.

Spun to Run, Pure Sensation Earn Graded Wins at Parx

Pure Sensation has won seven graded stakes at Parx Racing.

Meet Pure Sensation, the turf monster at Parx Racing.

An over-matched field of 10 turf sprinters probably would have been just fine without an introduction Sept. 2, as Patricia Generazio homebred Pure Sensation rolled to an easy victory in the $300,000 Turf Monster Stakes (G3T) at Parx.

Click here to read article from Blood Horse.

With the three-length score, veteran turf sprinter Pure Sensation secured a seventh graded stakes win at Parx. He won the Parx Dash there in the spring for the third time before winning the Turf Monster a fourth time since 2015 Monday. The Florida-bred 7-year-old son of Zensational—Pure Disco, by Disco Rico, completed Monday’s five-furlong test in :57.80.

In the turn Pure Sensation, under Paco Lopez, put away a challenge from longshot Hollywood Talent then quickly opened an insurmountable advantage in early stretch. Never threatening the winner, Dubini closed for second with Hollywood Talent holding third.

Pewter Stable’s Dubini earned a graded stakes placing for the first time, and 8-year-old Hollywood Talent, who is campaigned by Ten Strike Racing, earned a graded-stakes placing for the first time since his juvenile season when he finished second in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) and third in the Sanford Stakes (G2) on dirt.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Pure Sensation earned the 11th stakes win of his career and improved his earnings to $1,968,550 as he closed in on the $2 million mark.

Pure Sensation returned $3.20, 2.80, and $2.60 across the board while Dubini paid $8.20 and $6 to place and show. Hollywood Talent, sent off at 44-1, paid $17.20 to show.

Spun to Run Seals the Deal in Smarty Jones
One race later on the Parx card, Robert Donaldson’s Spun to Run just edged Gray Magician after a stretch-long duel to secure the first graded stakes win of his career in the $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes (G3). Paco Lopez was aboard as he swept the days graded stakes.

Trained by Juan Guerrero, lightly raced Spun to Run was making his first start since finishing third in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) July 20 at Monmouth Park. The Haskell marked the stakes debut for the 3-year-old son of Hard Spun , who scored his maiden win in January at Parx and followed with an allowance level victory there in March.

Early in Monday’s race, Bethlehem Road enjoyed a clear advantage through a half-mile in :47.35 with Spun to Run rated in third, Top Line Growth in second, and Gray Magician further back in fifth. Bethlehem Road would yield after six furlongs in 1:11.99 and coming out of the far turn Gray Magician circled outside of Top Line Growth inside and Spun to Run between them.

Gray Magician, under Corey Lanerie, would seize the lead in early stretch but Spun to Run would regroup and battle back. Those two would duel to the wire with Spun to Run prevailing by a head. Top Line Growth would hold third, 4 1/2 lengths behind the top two.

Spun to Run paid $5, $2.60, and $2.10 across the board and second-choice Gray Magician returned $2.80 and $2.20. Top Line Growth paid $2.60 to show. He holds a 3-1-3 record from eight starts with $360,520 in earnings.

Donaldson purchased Spun to Run for $64,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale from the De Meric Sales consignment. Bred in Kentucky by Sabana Farm, Spun to Run is out of stakes-winning Grand Slam mare Yawkey Way, who also has produced stakes winner Tap It All (Tapizar).

Yawkey Way has a yearling filly by Frosted consigned as Hip 1047 by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, entered in this year’s renewal of the Keeneland Sepetember Yearling Sale. She foaled a Practical Joke colt March 21.

Stakes Triple for Paco Lopez Results in Jockey of the Week Honors

With three stakes wins, including the only Grade 1 event of the week, Paco Lopez was chosen as Jockeys’ Guild Foundation Detox Jockey of the Week for June 17-23, 2019. 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. Jockey of the Week is sponsored by, America’s #1 Equine Toxin Remover.

Click here to read article from Jockey Talk 360.

Paco Lopez was the only North American jockey to win more than one stakes race last week; he picked up wins in three stakes at Monmouth Park. His stakes victories began on Saturday with a win in the $150,000 Eatontown Stakes (G3) with heavy favorite Valedictorian ($3.60) in an easy three-length win.

He returned to the winner’s circle for the feature race and only Grade 1 of the week, the $310,000 United Nations Stakes. Lopez surprised fans and bettors with a win aboard Hunter O’Riley ($30.20), defeating post-time favorite Channel Cat and Bigger Picture, who competed in the race for the fourth time.

He won a third stake on Sunday in the $75,000 Dan Horn Handicap with Golden Brown ($3.80).

With $332,000 earned, Lopez was the leading rider by stakes earnings for the week. He earned $419,853 in total as the second leading rider by total earnings for the week. In 2019, he has earned $2.96 million and has earnings in excess of $88 million in his career to date.

Lopez tied for the third leading rider by wins for the week. He won seven races and finished in the money in half of his 20 starts. Lifetime, he is 2,503 for 12,544 lifetime and has won 72 races in 365 mounts this year.

Golden Brown turns tables on Irish Strait in Dan Horn Handicap

Right out of the gate, the $75,000 Dan Horn Handicap on Sunday at Monmouth Park was a two-horse affair between Irish Strait and Golden Brown.

Click here to read article from DRF.

There were five New Jersey-breds in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, but Irish Strait and Golden Brown swiftly separated themselves from the field with Irish Strait leading through an opening quarter-mile in 23.40 seconds tracked closely by Golden Brown. Jockey Paco Lopez aboard Golden Brown stuck closely with Irish Straight through a half-mile in 46.43, then let his mount settle off the pacesetter as three-quarters went in 1:09.64. Lopez began to ask Golden Brown to pick it up around the turn, and his mount responded willingly to gain ground through the stretch and eventually wear down Irish Strait for a half-length victory. It was 8 1/2 lengths back to Don’s Marsh in third.

The final time over firm turf was 1:40.95 and the winner, sent off at 4-5, returned $3.80. The finish was the inverse of last year’s Dan Horn, in which Irish Strait beat Golden Brown by a half-length.

Golden Brown, trained by Pat McBurney for ABL Stable et al., entered the Dan Horn off a victory in a second-level dirt allowance at Monmouth on May 11. The 4-year-old Offlee Wild colt now owns five wins from 14 starts and has earned $355,000.

McBurney told Monmouth publicity that the Irish War Cry Handicap on July 6 at Monmouth was a possible next target for Golden Brown.

“As it works out, our schedule 13 days from now is another Jersey-bred turf race, so if he bounces out of this good I think we’d be looking at that,” said McBurney. “We’ll stay with Jersey-breds for now with him.”

Valedictorian Follows Dam’s Success in Eatontown

Daughter of Smart N Classy earned her second graded score.

Epic Racing’s Valedictorian returned home to score decisively in the $165,000 Eatontown Stakes (G3T) June 22 at Monmouth Park. The New Jersey-bred mare followed the success of her dam, Smart N Classy, who won the Eatontown in 2005.

This year’s 1 1/16-mile turf test for fillies and mares 3 and up marked Valedictorian’s second graded stakes score, giving her three wins in six starts this season.

Click here to read article from Blood Horse.

A 5-year-old daughter of Temple City trained by Kelly Breen, Valedictorian won her first stakes race nearly a year ago in the Jersey Girl Handicap and added the All Along Stakes at Laurel Park in September. She made the grade this year in the Suwannee River Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 9 and won the Sand Springs Stakes there March 30.

Her lone off-the-board finish this year came in the Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2T) May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Returning to form Saturday, Valedictorian was held in second by jockey Paco Lopez, who let Conquest Hardcandy speed to the lead. The two were seven lengths ahead of the other four runners when the first quarter-mile went in :23.77 and remained 4 1/2 lengths in front when a half-mile went in :47.86.

The field came together as three-quarters of a mile went in 1:12.29, and Conquest Hardcandy could not maintain her lead. Remaining up front proved no problem for Valedictorian, who pulled away to cross the wire 2 3/4 lengths in front. The final time was 1:43.70 on a turf course rated good.

Valedictorian paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.10 as the 4-5 favorite.

“It wasn’t what I anticipated (with the early speed duel). But she has rated before, so it didn’t worry me,” Breen said. “The worrisome part to me was the time of the race, that they went (fast) the first quarter. It was a legitimate pace.

“Paco rode her smartly. He got her to the outside, she settled, and when I saw that she was doing it well and Paco had his trademark reins dangling, I knew we were OK. I was just worried she would be too sharp off her last couple of workouts, a little too eager. But it worked out fine.

“There are not too many like her. It’s really fun to have her in our barn. She likes it here, but I didn’t know if she would like it today with all of the rain we had—although she did win on a yielding turf at Laurel. But I was concerned about the footing.”

Maid To Remember rallied from last to finish second in a photo finish over Inflexibility. My Sistersledge, Conquest Hardcandy, and Dynatail completed the order of finish.

“I was a little concerned early because I thought I would be the only speed,” Lopez said. “I was fine taking her back and then going outside after that other horse was pushing for the lead. I was worried about the turf course, but it was good. I thought it would be very wet, and it wasn’t. My horse pulled me to the front, and I knew what I had. I just had to get her to relax. She is a nice mare, very consistent.”

Valedictorian was bred by John Bowers, who raced her under the name Roseland Farm Stable with trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. before Red Diamond Stable and trainer Michelle Nihei claimed her for $25,000 in January of her sophomore season. Epic Racing soon bought into Valedictorian, and she made her debut with Breen in August 2017.

Valedictorian has a 12-6-3 record from 28 starts and $672,765 in earnings.

Smart N Classy, by Smart Strike, has produced five winners from five starters, including a 3-year-old daughter of Stay Thirsty named Stay Smart, a Breen trainee who broke her maiden Friday at Monmouth. Smart N Classy last produced a yearling colt named He’spuregold by Vancouver.

Hunter O’Riley Captures United Nations Stakes

Tiz Wonderful gelding posted narrow win over Zulu Alpha in grade 1 turf test.

It had been a while since Hunter O’Riley last visited the winner’s circle, but that hardly mattered June 22 when the 6-year-old gelding returned to top form at a highly opportune time.

Sean Shay and Michael Ryan’s son of Tiz Wonderful rallied strongly in the stretch and recorded a neck victory over Zulu Alpha to capture the $310,000 United Nations Stakes (G1T) at Monmouth Park for his first victory since July 29, 2017.

Click here to read article from Blood Horse.

“We’re thrilled to get him back in form, and we have some races penciled in for him for the rest of the year that we are very excited about,” trainer Jimmy Toner said. “Coming into this race, he trained as well as he ever has, so I was confident going into the race that he would run good.”

Hunter O’Riley ($30.20) was winless in three 2019 starts before the 66th edition of the U.N., with his best finish a fourth in the Jan. 26 W. L. McKnight Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park. Those were his first starts since he was sidelined by an injury to a ligament in his pastern suffered after a ninth-place finish in Keeneland’s Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes (G2T), his lone outing in 2018.

Toner credited an aggressive ride by Paco Lopez as a key element in the 14-1 victory.

“Paco rode him great. I’m thrilled to death,” Toner said. “He tends to drop into a gallop. He always finishes, but he needs to have someone who keeps him in the race all the way. That was the key to him being able to finish like that.”

Hunter O’Riley was seventh in the field of eight in the early stages while saving ground but then was taken to the outside on the final turn and closed strongly while widest in the stretch to collar Michael Hui’s multiple graded stakes winner Zula Alpha, who had forged to a half-length lead at the eighth pole under Channing Hill.

“At the half-mile, I started to get him outside, and then when I asked him to run, he really gave me what he has. I had good position the whole way. I liked where I was. He fired a little slowly, but then he got rolling,” said Lopez.

Calumet Farm’s Channel Cat, the 9-5 favorite, was third, a half-length behind Zulu Alpha.

The final time for the 1 3/8 miles on a turf course labeled good was 2:17.10 after early fractions of :25.29, :50:36, 1:16.19, and 1:41.46 set by 22-1 shot Arrocha, who wound up sixth.

The victory was the fifth in 22 starts for Hunter O’Riley and increased his earnings to $620,293.

Hunter O’Riley was bred in Kentucky by Mike Rutherford out of the Bernardini mare Oblige, and was the mare’s first of five foals, the most recent of which was a Union Rags filly born Feb. 15. He was purchased by Shay for $50,000 from Niall Brennan Stables’ consignment at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, after going through the ring for $120,000 to Jarazen Stable from Legacy Bloodstock’s consignment at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Toner said the next start for Hunter O’Riley would most likely come at Saratoga Race Course in the July 27 Bowling Green Stakes (G2T), which, appropriately enough, served as the gelding’s last win in 2017.

Hunter O’Riley ends skid in United Nations

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Since winning the Grade 2 Bowling Green in July 2017 at Saratoga, Hunter O’Riley had failed to hit the board in six starts sandwiched around a ninth-month layoff. The long-winded son of Tiz Wonderful had been dropping too far back during his races and was unable to make up the ground when it counted.

Click here to read article from DRF.

That changed on Saturday at Monmouth Park when jockey Paco Lopez kept the 6-year-old in contact with the field during the Grade 1 United Nations while saving ground. He wheeled Hunter O’Riley out five wide on the far turn and then ran down Zulu Alpha to take the 1 3/8-mile turf stakes by a neck.

The win was the first in a Grade 1 for trainer Jimmy Toner since Time and Motion won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in the fall of 2016.

“That was a super ride by Paco,” Toner said of the United Nations. “He saved ground with the field and then tipped him out – maybe a little too far, I thought. But this horse runs better on the outside and at least he wasn’t 15 lengths out of it early.

“The horse has been doing great. He’s been training lights out for this.”

Lopez, a five-time riding champion at Monmouth, has been riding very well since he returned to the saddle June 15 after serving a 30-day suspension for careless riding at Gulfstream Park. The United Nations was Lopez’s third win on the card. He also won the Grade 3 Eatontown and an allowance race. Since his return, Lopez is 8 for 28.

Lopez was happy after the United Nations but downplayed the significance of the most important win of his comeback.

“Whether it’s a Grade 1, a Grade 2, or a $5,000 claimer, I try to win every race all the time,” Lopez said. “I am happy that today I was able to do what Mr. Toner wanted. He told me, ‘Whatever you do, get this horse to the outside.’ ”

Hunter O’Riley is now 5 for 22 and the $180,000 he earned Saturday boosts his earnings to $620,000 for owners Sean Shay and Michael Ryan. The United Nations is his second stakes win.

He had been scheduled to race in the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day but was scratched by order of the stewards.

“That was an unfortunate incident,” Toner said. “One of my employees gave the horse some wind [spray] during the course of the day, and security was there, and the rules are you can’t give the horse anything on the day of the race. And, that’s what happened.

“It was very disappointing. Maybe it was a bad thing, good thing since he was able to come back in this race.”

Arrocha was sent from the gate in the United Nations by Antonio Gallardo and made the lead. He was surprisingly tracked by Monarchs Glen, who had lagged far back in his first two starts U.S. starts after having previously raced in Great Britain.

Following fractions of 25.29 seconds, 50.36, 1:16.19, and 1:41.46 over the good course, the field bunched up on the far turn, with Zulu Alpha challenging three wide outside the early leaders and 9-5 favorite Channel Cat bidding for the lead four wide.

Zulu Alpha came away with a short lead over Channel Cat but could not contain Hunter O’Riley, who paid $30.20 while completing the course in 2:17.10 following a 1 1/4-mile split of 2:05.51.

It was a half-length back from Zulu Alpha to Channel Cat in third and 1 1/4 lengths farther back to Bigger Picture, who won the United Nation two years ago. Focus Group, who trailed the field early, finished fifth at 3-1.

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