09/16/2010 1:10PM

At the Disco takes distinct class drop for Hesse

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OCEANPORT, N.J. – At the Disco, the pacesetter in the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes, returns to the New Jersey-bred ranks on Saturday in the Charles Hesse III Handicap at Monmouth Park.

The Hesse is one of four $100,000 stakes on the 12-race card devoted exclusively to horses bred in the Garden State.

It’s a day to showcase many of the leading statebred runners and draw attention to the New Jersey’s flagging breeding industry.

The continued uncertainty over future racing dates and purse levels has had a debilitating effect on the program. Mike Campbell, executive director of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey, reports only 210 registered foals for 2010, an all-time low.

“Right now, nobody knows how many days we’ll run next year, or in three or four years from now,” Campbell said. “It’s difficult for breeders to decide if they’re going to foal here or in other states where they know how many days they are going to run and they know what the purse levels are going to be. Everyone is waiting for some type of plan to be set forth, and then they can make a decision. Hopefully, they will stay here.”

As for the horses already here, At the Disco has proven to be a steady campaigner through the years.

Now 6, At the Disco has recorded 9 wins and $465,215 in career earnings, easily the top figures in the Hesse.

A homebred by Patricia Generazio, At the Disco is adept on either turf or dirt. He switches back to the main track for the 1 1/16-mile Hesse following a solid try in the Red Bank, his third straight turf race.

After taking a bump at the start, At the Disco recovered to set the pace and held well to be fourth behind Get Serious, a multiple graded stakes winner.

This spot offers considerable class relief.

“He came out of the Red Bank in good order and this looks like a much easier spot for him and I’m expecting a big effort,” said trainer Mary Hartmann. “He got bumped around pretty good, but he’s a big guy. It was a good effort and he gave his all.”

The only possible negative is a relatively short turnaround from the Red Bank on Sept. 5.

“It’s a little quick but he hasn’t had very many starts this summer,” Hartmann said. “He seems to be doing good, acting good. He’s given me no indication that he can’t run.”

The Hesse will be the sixth start this year for At the Disco, all at Monmouth. He was fourth in last year’s Hesse after a bobble at the break.

Hermosillo won last year’s Hesse by six lengths at 35-1. He’s back to defend his title, and again figures to be a long price. Hermosillo has not come close to duplicating last season’s form with a trio of fifths being his best results in five starts in 2010.

Themanmythnlegend debuts for trainer Tim Hills in the Hesse following a $20,000 claim from the owner-breeder-trainer team of Lloyd and Geraldine Kromann.

“When we got him, he was in very good shape,” Hills said. “That’s typical of a breeder who takes care of their horses, puts them away, and gives them time when they need it. He was a little nervous and it took a little time to settle into our routine. Now he’s doing well.”

In a race featuring a lot of speed horses, Themanmythnlegend will be rallying in the lane.

“It should set up well for him,” Hills said. “He shouldn’t be that far back but he will definitely be coming off the pace.”

Weight, rail may hamper Love That Dance

Like At the Disco, Love That Dance faced open company last time. She earned a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure for a solid win in the mud in Monmouth’s Trenton Stakes.

Love That Dance has the rail against seven rivals in the Eleven North for fillies and mares going six furlongs.

“She’ll be the favorite, back with Jersey-breds, but she drew the rail, which would not have been my first choice,” said trainer Ben Perkins, Jr. “And she has more weight.”

Love That Dance carries 122 pounds, conceding six to 11 pounds to each of her rivals.

“She does have the edge in experience,” Perkins said. “She ran a solid race last time in the Trenton and she’s up to where we want her to be.”

◗ Lucky James is back to defend his title in the New Jersey Breeders Handicap at six furlongs. Off the board in all four starts this year, Lucky James will need a big bounce back effort against a lineup that includes Unwritten, Evenings End, and Hop Skip and Away.

◗ Way With Words, last year’s Eleven North winner, stretches out to 1 1/16 miles for the Jersey Girl Handicap for fillies and mares.