09/23/2009 11:00PM

Futurity shares program with Steeplechase Festival


On the penultimate day of its 94-day meet which ends Sunday, Monmouth Park has something planned to keep the racing from growing stale.

Saturday's 11-race card is unique. Two divisions of the Monmouth Park NATC for juveniles - one for males, another for females - headline five flat dirt races interspersed with six National Steeplechase Association races that make up the Monmouth Park-Meridian Health Steeplechase Festival.

A section of the Monmouth clubhouse will host the fund-raising steeplechase festivities, which include reserved seating and food packages. Ticket prices range from $35 for preferred seats, including an all-day barbeque, to $1,200 for luxury boxes with tableside service.

Normal admission prices will be in effect for other areas of the clubhouse and grandstand.

The top two jump races are the $70,000 Metcalf Memorial Novice Hurdle Stakes at 2 1/4 miles, and the $50,000 Helen Haskell Sampson Memorial Hurdle Stakes at two miles.

The Metcalf, (race 8) drew a field of eight, including a pair from Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard in Dugan and Nationbuilder. They face opposition from highweighted Seer, who won the Monmouth County Steeplechase last year, and Left Unsaid, a winner of 2 of 4 jump starts.

Two maiden races for jumpers, and two National Steeplechase Association flat races, both at 1 1/2 miles on the turf, are the other NSA races.

The two divisions of the NATC Futurity - open to horses who sold in auctions sanctioned by the National Association of Two-Year-Old Consignors - will go as the third and 10th races, with the male division being run before the filly division. Each race carries a purse of $200,000.

Enumerate, who ran second to Backtalk in the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga on July 30, will seek to rebound from an 11th-place finish in the Sept. 7 Hopeful in the male division of the NATC Futurity.

A son of Proud Accolade owned and bred by Padua Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, Enumerate won a maiden race at Churchill Downs on June 28.

Chief Counsel, who ran second and third in a pair of maiden races at Saratoga this summer, heads the opposition.

Another juvenile by Proud Accolade, Proud Zoe, looms a short-priced favorite in the filly division. She won a maiden race by six lengths at Saratoga on Aug. 10 in her fourth start. She was second behind eventual Grade 1 Spinaway winner Hot Dixie Chick in a maiden race at Churchill Downs on June 13.

Dry weather is forecast for Saturday, with a high temperature expected to be in the mid-60s.