Updated on 09/17/2011 10:54AM

Balto Star takes U.N. at big price

Balto Star leads the field wire to wire to win the $750,000 United Nations Handicap in course record time on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Balto Star and jockey Jose Velez Jr. teamed up for the biggest win of their respective careers as they combined to pull off a stunning upset Saturday afternoon in the Grade 1, $750,000 United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park.

Balto Star ($76) held off The Tin Man by a half-length with Lunar Sovereign third. Balto Star set a course record, running the 1 3/8 miles in 2:12.78, erasing the mark of 2:12.81 set by With Anticipation in his U.N. victory last year.

Requete and Denon, both trained by Bobby Frankel, took the bulk of the betting action and finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Requete, 5-2 in the betting, rallied from seventh to be fourth. Denon, a winner of two Grade 1's in his last four starts, received a ground-saving ride from Jerry Bailey but had no late kick as the 6-5 favorite.

"He just didn't have it," Bailey said.

With Anticipation, trying to defend his U.N. title, trailed in the seven-horse field.

Velez did a masterful job of rating his mount and stealing the race on the lead.

Balto Star took charge early with The Tin Man in close stalking position. That turned out to be the key to the race.

"I was just a passenger," Velez said. "The horse was in perfect shape today. They let me go the first quarter real easy."

Balto Star coasted through the opening quarter in 24.57 seconds. The pace never quickened as he got the half-mile in 48.79 and the three-quarters in 1:14.15.

"I knew I had a lot of horse still and there was no pressure to the top of the stretch," Velez said. "For a minute, I thought they would come to me at the eighth pole, but he rebroke again at the sixteenth pole. I kept getting to the horse and he kept digging in more and more."

Rating tactics pay off for Stroll

Stroll improved his turf record to three wins in five starts as he rallied to capture the $50,000 Lamplighter Stakes for 3-year-olds on the undercard.

Stroll ($3) ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.09 with Bailey aboard for trainer Bill Mott and Claiborne Farm.

"He's always been a speed horse but today there looked like there was plenty of pace," Bailey said. "When the gates opened, I got him to settle down until we hit the stretch."

Stroll, as far back as eighth early in the nine-horse field, angled five wide entering the stretch and steadily increased his margin.

Stroll won by 2 3/4 lengths over Purely Classic with Ali's Pride third.