08/26/2008 11:00PM

All-out effort to promote Big Brown


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Securing the commitment from the Big Brown camp to run the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Haskell Invitational winner in the inaugural Monmouth Stakes was the first step.

Now it's up to Monmouth Park to turn Big Brown's return to the Jersey Shore into a major late-season event on Sept. 13.

It won't be an easy sell, given the time of year and the short window to promote a turf race where the purse inflates from $200,000 to $500,000, if Big Brown runs.

The traditional core Monmouth season is Memorial Day to Labor Day and some fans aren't even aware that the Monmouth season extends to Sept. 28. Interest has waned in final weeks of the years when the Monmouth meet extended deep into September.

Now, thanks to Big Brown, the final days have a stellar focal point.

"We had to adjust and move marketing dollars around," said assistant general manager Bill Knauf. "We want to make it as big a day as possible, given the short time frame."

To lure fans, Monmouth will have a giveaway: a long-sleeve Big Brown T-shirt that commemorates his win in the Haskell.

As an added incentive, Monmouth will keep grandstand reserved seats at the regular season price of $2. Those seats cost $10 to $15 for Haskell Day.

Seats can be reserved through the admissions office at (732) 571-5582.

Overall, Monmouth will treat Monmouth Stakes Day like a busy Saturday afternoon in the summer, adjusting staffing, restaurant, and concession stand levels accordingly.

Knauf hopes for a crowd that would double the typical Saturday turnouts in past Septembers.

"We've never had this type of horse, and the surrounding publicity, in September," Knauf said. "We're preparing for 15,000. Hopefully, it's more."

Monmouth will spend roughly $30,000 to advertise the race in print and broadcast outlets and through a direct-mail campaign.

Get Serious iffy for Red Bank

Get Serious, a sharp winner here in two straight turf allowances, is a question mark for the Grade 3, $150,000 Red Bank Handicap on Saturday.

Trainer Pat McBurney said the 4-year-old Get Serious had an abscess in his left front foot, forcing him to miss a workout.

"He's been back training four or five days and he's feeling great," McBurney said. "Right now, it's up in the air."

Get Serious's last race was Aug. 14, so he should still be race fit.

If Get Serious misses the Red Bank, McBurney will train the colt up to the Monmouth Stakes, and a possible confrontation with Big Brown.

Buffalo Man, Fagedaboudit Sal, Giant Wrecker, Icy Atlantic, and John's Pic are likely for the Red Bank.

Sheer Faith solid in turf sprints

Lightly-raced Sheer Faith has hardly missed a beat while advancing to Friday's first-level allowance feature.

The 3-year-old Sheer Faith will be making his fourth start, all in grass sprints, and has raced well each time. He faces seven rivals in the five-furlong race.

Sheer Faith debuted at Atlantic City Race Course in April, finishing first by a head but the result did not stand as he was disqualified and placed last for interference.

"It wasn't any greenness," said trainer Greg Sacco. "He came out at the top of the lane and brushed a horse."

Denied a maiden win, Sheer Faith next stepped up to Monmouth's Anderson Fowler Stakes for 3-year-olds.

"They don't write maiden races on the grass sprinting at Monmouth," Sacco said. "I ran him in the stake and he was a creditable third."

Then it was on to Delaware Park, where Sheer Faith rallied for a maiden victory.

"He really ran a nice race that day," Sacco said. "He overcame a bit of a tough trip, going wide. He extended nicely through the lane and we'll see if he can take the next step forward."

Castle to represent Cohen at Big M

Jockey Mario Pino and his agent, Bill Castle, have parted ways. Castle has begun representing jockey David Cohen at Delaware Park and will take over as his permanent agent beginning with the Meadowlands meet that begins Sept. 28.

Castle said his plan is to take Cohen to Aqueduct for the winter. Cohen is currently the sixth leading rider at Monmouth.

Pino, who returns from a three-week suspension this weekend, will be represented by his former agent, Tracy Campola.

* The 9-year-old gelding Brucker's Brother was claimed for the fifth time in his last six races on Wednesday. Leading trainer Bruce Levine was the latest to reach in, paying $20,000 for the horse who finished third to end a three-race winning streak.

- additional reporting by David Grening