08/16/2009 11:00PM

Coal Play making another trip to favorite track

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Coal Play is expected back at his favorite track Saturday as the horse to catch in the Grade 3, $300,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Trained by Nick Zito, Coal Play is 3-1-1 in 5 starts here. Only once has he failed to crack the 100 Beyer Speed Figure barrier at Monmouth.

Coal Play will make his second appearance on the Jersey Shore this year, having scored a pacesetting win in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile, a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In victory that assures him a starting berth in the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in November.

Coal Play tops a field of eight expected runners for the 1 1/8-mile race.

The lineup includes Actin Good, winner of the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes at the Meadowlands in 2007; Chirac, 3 for 4 at the meet, including a win in the Skip Away Stakes; Researcher, dominant winner of the Charles Town Classic in April; Solar Flare, an easy winner of the Frisk Me Now Stakes here back in May; You and I Forever; Pampered Sir; and Famous Patriot.

Last time out, Famous Patriot was a rallying third in the slop in a Haskell Day undercard stakes, the Majestic Light.

According to trainer Tim Hills, Famous Patriot caught the worst of it in that spot.

"He hates the slop," Hills said. "He hates running into a ton of dirt and he got both. He was ridiculously wide, but that was just the way the race unfolded. I was really happy with the effort."

Hills considered scratching, but lacked a fallback race.

"With distance dirt horses with no conditions left, there are no races for them," Hills said. "You have to take them when you can get them. He had been ready to run three weeks before he ran in that race."

Chance pays off for Thompson

Glenn Thompson describes himself as a "shoot for the moon type of guy" who never backs away from a racetrack challenge, running horses in spots that appear well beyond their scope.

Sometimes the moon really is made of green cheese, as Thompson pleasantly discovered Saturday when Two Notch Road won the Continental Mile at 107-1.

Not bad for a horse who was entered in a $25,000 maiden claimer the week before, only to be scratched when he dumped the rider and ran off.

"I was fighting myself whether to run in the claiming race or the Continental Mile," Thompson said. "I decided for once in my life to be smart. Instead of shooting for the moon, I put him in the claiming race. When he got loose and ran off, I had a feeling he was supposed to be in the Continental Mile."

Thompson hasn't picked out a next start for Two Notch Road, but he is intrigued by the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf for the gelding that he bought for only $2,500 last year.

"If you really want to shoot for the moon, go for the Breeders' Cup," Thompson said.

Thompson pushes for rescue funds

A longtime supporter of horse-rescue efforts, Thompson was encouraged to see ReRun recently designated as the onsite provider of aftercare at Monmouth for Thoroughbreds when their careers are over.

Thompson, however, feels the current funding levels from jockeys, horsemen, and the track aren't adequate to meet the mission of finding homes for retired runners.

"The New Jersey horsemen need to do more," Thompson said. "When you consider the hundreds of thousands we've spent on legal and lobbying fees, I think only $20,000 for retired horses is way out of line."