10/08/2010 1:28PM

Hermosillo tries to build on last start in Monmouth feature

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OCEANPORT, N.J. − While there are no stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday, the 11-race card does offer a trio of second-level optional claimers, each worth $55,000.

There is a sprint for New Jersey-breds and a turf route for fillies and mares. On the main track, the first of the three co-features drew a field of eight, including five carrying a $40,000 tag for the 1 1/16 miles.

Hermosillo, winless in six tries this year − all at Monmouth − enters off his best effort of the season, a second-place finish in the Charles Hesse Handicap for New Jersey breds. The 2009 Hesse champion, Hermosillo got hooked in a speed duel with Broken Trail through an opening half-mile in 46.78 seconds. Hermosillo pressed on gamely and finished 4 1/4 lengths behind Goombada Guska.

“He seemed to come out of it okay,” trainer Steve DiMauro said. “We are just trying to find a spot where he can stay competitive. He didn’t come around as quickly as he did last year. That’s what happens when they get a little older and lose a step here and there.”

Now 6, Hermosillo is in the race as a claimer. He is 5 for 28 at Monmouth, and usual rider Pedro Cotto Jr. will be aboard.

Pound Foolish has run well in the two races since trainer Jane Cibelli claimed him for $22,000 in July. He has a win on the main track and a third on the turf since the barn change.

Father, son get thrill in Vosburgh

Running a horse in a Grade 1 stakes is a thrill for any trainer. The experience is even more meaningful when your dad owns the horse.

The father-son team of Ben Perkins Sr. and Jr. had that special moment last weekend, when they sent Wildcat Brief in the Vosburgh at Belmont Park.

“It was exciting being in that race,” Ben Jr. said. “My father’s been in the game a long time. To get some notice in a race like that meant a lot.”

Wildcat Brief came through with a big effort, rallying from far back to get third.

“He ran a good race,” Perkins said. “He left himself too much to do after the first part. It looks like he fits with that kind of horse.”

The Vosburgh was only the second graded appearance for Wildcat Brief, a 4-year-old. He had run well throughout the summer in overnight stakes at Monmouth, winning the Icecapade and missing by a nose in the Mr. Prospector.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of major sprint stakes options left in the region, especially with the cancellation of the De Francis Dash at Laurel.

“He’s already been back to the track, and right now we’re just sitting with him,” Perkins said. “When a horse is running his best, you hate to stop him. But if there’s no where to run, we might just get him ready for Gulfstream where they have some pretty sprints right off the bat.”

Love That Dance falls to her rival

Perkins was busy on the stakes front last weekend, also sending out Love That Dance in the Maryland Millions Distaff Handicap.

A 4-year-old New Jersey-bred, Love That Dance had won two straight stakes at Monmouth before heading down to Laurel. Love That Dance beat open company in the mud in the Trenton before crushing statebreds in the Eleven North. Based on those wins, Love That Dance was the 3-10 favorite against her nemesis, Blind Date.

Love That Dance led in the stretch before Blind Date eased past for a half-length win.

Those two had hooked up last fall in the Maryland Million Oaks, in which Love That Dance won by a head.

There was a huge weight swing in the rematch. Love That Dance carried 114 pounds last year. This time, the assignment was 123. Blind Date carried 121 in 2009 but only 116 last weekend.

“They switched the weights, and that switched the order of finish,” Perkins said.

Love That Dance faces the same problem as Wildcat Brief − a dwindling number of stakes options.

“It’s getting to that time of the year,” Perkins said. “There might be one more, and then run her once or twice in New York before giving her a break to get ready for Monmouth next year.”