05/14/2011 6:54PM

Monmouth: This One's For Phil

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I thought This Ones for Phil was cold on the board early on for the Decathlon Stakes. After all, despite the layoff of over a year, this is a horse who has posted Beyers in the 107-108 range, and he was facing only four rivals, yet he was better than even money for much of the betting, and he ended up there at post time. He was anything but cold on the track, however, easily holding off the solid late run from Wildcat Brief to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

"Whatever ailments he had seem to be behind him now," said trainer Tony Dutrow. "I was impressed, but not surprised. This is a really nice horse. We’ll keep him short -- six, seven furlongs. This should set him up nicely for the True North (Belmont, June 11)."

Jockey Joe Bravo, who rode This Ones for Phil, was also impressed.

“My instructions were to enjoy myself because I was on the best horse," said Bravo, who rode three winners on today's card. "I don’t think he ran his best race today off the long layoff, and still ended up running 1:09 3/5 on a track that wasn’t that fast."

Monmouth officials were happy with the Opening Day figures -- attendance was 10,847, which represented a 5.4 percent increase over opening day of the 2009 meet, and total betting was $4,534,828, up 6% over the 2009 numbers. It's a long way from last year, when 17,903 showed up and $9,357,444 was wagered on the 13-race card on Opening Day, but the 2010 "Elite Meet" was a whole different ballgame, and it's not going to be duplicated, at least this year. Expect track management to ignore the 2010 figures all year for reasons of comparison.