Updated on 09/18/2011 12:06AM

Gutsy victory for Park Avenue Ball

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Bill Denver / EQUI-PHOTO
Park Avenue Ball with Chris Decarlo riding wins the $65,000 Frisk Me Now Stakes at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Park Avenue Ball, last season's champion New Jersey-bred, made a triumphant return to Monmouth Park on Saturday with a half-length victory over Network in the $65,000 Frisk Me Now Stakes.

The 4-5 favorite, Park Avenue Ball fought for every inch of the mile and 70 yards. He shot right to front but soon had company from Ranger Chance. They raced as a team down the backstretch and around the second turn, before Park Avenue Ball, with Chris DeCarlo aboard, pulled clear turning for home.

Meanwhile, Network was gearing up for a stretch challenge. He swung widest on the last turn and appeared to have all the momentum at the top of the lane, but Park Avenue Ball ($3.80) dug down to earn his fourth career win in six Monmouth starts.

"He fought really hard to hold that horse off," said trainer Jim Ryerson. "I was very pleased with his effort."

Your Bluffing was third, followed by Miracle Man, Ranger Chance, and Cointreau. The winning time was 1:42.01 on the fast track.

Joey P. edges Quiet Desperation

Joey P. ($3.20) also enjoyed a productive return to Monmouth with a half-length victory in the $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds.

It was a tougher fight than expected for Joey P., who went off the 3-5 favorite.

In his first start since winning the Rutgers Stakes at The Meadowlands Racetrack in November, Joey P. wound up in the middle of an early speed battle, with Hammered to his inside and Quiet Desperation pressing the issue three wide.

Joey P., with Joe Bravo aboard, took a narrow lead on the turn, which he preserved through the lane over a determined Quiet Desperation.

The winning time was 1:10.84 on the fast track, and Joey P. remained unbeaten in seven starts at six furlongs.

Joey P. gained a local following last year after his win in the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup and overly ambitious bid in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, where he finished seventh. The Reilly marked his first start for trainer Ben Perkins Jr. Owner John Petrini made the change from Frank Costa over the winter.

"We were happy," Perkins said. "He wasn't overly drilled. We were hoping to have him fit enough to win. I guess we just barely did. I thought that other horse might have him at the eighth pole, but when he sensed that horse there, his natural competitiveness kicked in again."

Quiet Desperation turned in a strong effort to get the place spot as the second-longest shot in the five-horse field at 12-1.

Karakorum Tuxedo rallied for third with Who's the Cowboy fourth followed by Hammered, the second choice at 2-1.