05/27/2005 11:00PM

American Freedom takes Red Bank

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Ryan McAlinden/ EQUI-PHOTO
American Freedom, and jockey Jose Velez, Jr., race ahead of the field to win the $150,000 Grade 3 Red Bank Handicap at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Jamie Woodington got her wish when the Grade 3, $150,000 remained on the turf Saturday afternoon at Monmouth Park.She wanted to keep American Freedom, a 7-year-old New Jersey-bred gelding, on his preferred surface at his favorite track.The race stayed on the grass, and American Freedom ($25.80) pulled off the upset in the first turf race of the meet run over a very soft course.

The time was 1:43.12 for the mile. American Freedom was much the best as he improved his Monmouth turf record to 5-2-4 in 13 races before 16,104." He runs hard every single time," Woodington said. "In these kind of grass races, it's basically the trip."The trip wasn't easy. American Freedom checked hard in the first run past the grandstand as he almost ran up the heels of horses in front of him in the slow-paced race.

He remained bottled up in traffic until Jose Velez Jr. eased him out four wide on the final turn.American Freedom dug in to get up by a neck over Spruce Run in his first start since October." Jamie has done a tremendous job with this horse over the years," Velez said. "I called her in April and said make sure the horse is ready for the Red Bank. I give all the credit for this to Jamie." Royal Affirmed finished third and suffered an injury to his left front leg while pulling up. He was vanned off the course in the horse ambulance. Trade Fair and two main-track-only horses - Ricardo A and Tap Day - scratched to reduce the field to eight.

Reilly: War's Prospect scoresWar's Prospect ($4.80) bounded to the lead shortly after the break and dictated the pace to win the $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds. A 4-year-old gelding, War's Prospect had tried the same tactics in the Decathlon Stakes, Monmouth's opening-day feature. He set a brisk pace before fading to sixth that day in open company. The drop into a restricted race helped War's Prospect sustain his speed for the entire six furlongs. With Jose C. Ferrer aboard, War's Prospect opened up a five-length lead at the top of the stretch. He tired in the final stages but had built enough cushion to hold off Quiet Desperation by 1 1/4 lengths, with Upturn third. The time was 1:09.84 over the fast track.