05/08/2009 11:00PM

Access Fee not just pure speed


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Access Fee bids for a second straight stakes win Sunday in the $70,000 Red Cross for fillies and mares, the Mother's Day feature at Monmouth Park.

Monmouth concludes the opening weekend of the season with an 11-race card that begins at 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

The Red Cross attracted a field of six for the six-furlong race, including Access Fee, fresh from a career-best performance in the Primonetta Stakes at Laurel.

Last time out, the 4-year-old Access Fee showed trainer Larry Murray a new dimension. In the past, she was very dangerous on the lead, dictating the pace. In the Primonetta on April 4, Access Fee was outgunned for the lead in a snappy 21.76-second opening quarter. This time, she fought - ultimately forging a dead heat for the victory with Cammy's Choice.

"She didn't make the lead and she was still running at the end," Murray said. "In the past, when she didn't make the lead, she kind of chucked it. It's a new dimension and it opens up some options."

Luis Garcia has the return call for the Red Cross. He rode Access Fee for the first time in the Primonetta and they were an effective team.

"He said he wasn't really restraining her from the lead but he just wasn't asking her," Murray said. "He knew they were going that fast and he said she was very comfortable to sit where she was. She had some gas when he asked her."

Access Fee earned a personal-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure, easily the best last-race number in the field.

By the Light was also a last-out winner, having captured the Elizabeth Bay Stakes on Wednesday at Belmont Park. This will be short rest for the 4-year-old New York-bred By the Light if trainer Rick Dutrow wheels her right back.

Both Access Fee and By the Light squared off in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Feb. 14. By the Light was fourth; Access Fee was sixth.

Talkin About Love, the 2007 Monmouth Oaks winner, makes her season debut for owner-trainer-breeder Kevin Sleeter.

She was on target for last year's Red Cross before Sleeter scratched her due to a wet track. All seven of the New Jersey-bred Talking About Love's wins have come at Monmouth.

Completing the field are Way With Words, winner of the Eleven North Handicap here in September, and Heckuva Good Time.