10/24/2007 11:00PM

Lantana Mob back on favorite track

EmailOCEANPORT, N.J. - There is a certain comfort zone for Lantana Mob, and it's right here at Monmouth Park. Twice this year, he has faced the elite 2-year-olds in New York, and while he was not embarrassed, he found the competition too steep. But in two starts at Monmouth, Lantana Mob has been perfect, with victories in the Sapling and Tyro stakes.

Lantana Mob returns to Monmouth Park on Friday for the $250,000 Favorite Trick Breeders' Cup, the last of three undercard stakes that precede Friday's three Breeders' Cup races. It is also the first leg of a pick four that concludes with the BC races.

Not only is Lantana Mob at his favorite track, but he is also returning to six furlongs - the distance at which he won the Sapling - after stretching out to a mile when finishing fourth in the Champagne Stakes.

"The good thing about him is that in his two races here, he won the Tyro and the Sapling," Scott Blasi, the top assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said in the Monmouth Park stable area on Wednesday morning. "His race in the Champagne was actually a decent race. He probably doesn't want to go that far. I like him shortening up off a mile race. The Asmussen barn has a good percentage there."

There are several promising, lightly raced 2-year-olds set to face Lantana Mob.

Cobra Strike won first time out here against maidens, then was second in a stakes race at the Meadowlands in which he beat Favorite Trick entrant Indy Joe by a half-length.

Officer Frank romped against statebred maidens in his debut at Arlington Park, then was purchased privately and turned over to Francois Parisel, in whose name trainer Patrick Biancone's horses are running this weekend. Biancone is about to begin a suspension handed down by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.

Law Enforcement, like Lantana Mob a son of sprint sire Posse, has raced exclusively against New York-breds thus far, but has recorded Beyer Speed Figures that put him on a par with Lantana Mob.

West Coast Coach heads in from the Midwest, where he won twice in fast time, including a stakes at Prairie Meadows.

Epitome: Mott, Pletcher, or Euros?

Breeders' Cup Ltd. has not gone so far as to invent a new race called the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, or at least not yet. Instead, a Friday race known as the Epitome BC Stakes is being inaugurated to satisfy that specialized niche, and Monmouth Park horseplayers might be nearly as grateful for the new race as horsemen are for its $250,000 purse.

The one-mile Epitome came up a good one, with a field of 12 that sticks closely to the proviso of Breeders' Cup weekend being a handicapper's delight. With several of the main contenders already having dabbled in two-turn turf stakes, there is enough established form that bettors probably will settle on a filly from the Bill Mott or Todd Pletcher stable as the most likely winner - that is, unless one of the two British fillies who were excluded from the BC Juvenile Fillies, Annie Skates and Joffe's Run, convince bettors that their snub was unjustified.

Mott, the Hall of Famer who has had an uncanny second half of the year by winning the training title at Saratoga and being on the verge of winning another at the Keeneland fall meet, steps up with Namaste's Wish and Life Is Sweet, an uncoupled duo with showy victories in the bank.

Namaste's Wish, a $600,000 yearling purchase for the Live Oak Plantation, could barely get out of her own way when starting her career with two races on dirt, but once Mott spotted her on grass, she suddenly got serious, winning a Saratoga maiden race, then the Sept.o30 Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont Park. Similarly, Life Is Sweet also had one main-track dud before romping in a maiden turf race at Belmont.

Pletcher counters with Sea Chanter, a War Chant filly who already has become something of a pro with four turf outings, including three in stakes, the last of which resulted in a game runner-up finish behind Namaste's Wish in the Miss Grillo.

The English fillies, quite typically, are the unknown quantities. Annie Skates and Joffe's Run ran in the same Group 3 stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago following maiden victories, and both look particularly dangerous since they are being treated with the bleeder medication Lasix for the first time.

At least several more fillies rate high consideration in a deep field, including Grace and Power, Cato Major, and Sales Tax. The Epitome is the sixth of 10 races on Friday, with a post time set for 3:10 p.m. Eastern.

Inside Information: Tessa Blue is hot

Unlike the Epitome and some of the other supporting stakes this week, the $250,000 Inside Information (race 5, post 2:35 p.m.) drew neither a large field nor a particularly compelling storyline. That doesn't bother trainer Frank Brothers, who will be in from Kentucky to saddle Tessa Blue, a filly who suddenly turned the corner when Brothers stretched her out in an August allowance race at Ellis Park. Since then, Tessa Blue ran second in the Prairie Meadows Oaks, then earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in easily winning the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks three weeks ago.

"I guess I'd been hard-headed about it, but basically when I stretched her out, she really started to show what she could do," said Brothers. "She'd had a couple little excuses before that, but after we sent her long she's been able to carry her speed. Not that she has to be in front, but she's just been a different horse."

Tessa Blue, with Mike Smith to ride, is one of only six in the Inside Information, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies on the main track. Tessa Blue was scheduled to arrive Wednesday with a host of Breeders' Cup starters on a charter flight from Kentucky. Brothers is aware that Tessa Blue rates a solid chance in the race partly because of the small field, but, he said, "I know you can't mail it in for $250,000."

Her main challengers figure to be Talkin About Love, a locally based filly who captured the Monmouth Oaks two starts back, and Boca Grande, the Indiana Oaks runner-up for trainer Shug McGaughey. Lost Etiquette, Bare Dancer, and Honorable Truth round out the field.

- additional reporting by Marty McGeeOCEANPORT, N.J. - There is a certain comfort zone for Lantana Mob, and it's right here at Monmouth Park. Twice this year, he has faced the elite 2-year-olds in New York, and while he was not embarrassed, he found the competition too steep. But in two starts at Monmouth, Lantana Mob has been perfect, with victories in the Sapling and Tyro stakes.

Lantana Mob returns to Monmouth Park on Friday for the $250,000 Favorite Trick Breeders' Cup, the last of three undercard stakes that precede Friday's three Breeders' Cup races. It is also the first leg of a pick four that concludes with the BC races.

Not only is Lantana Mob at his favorite track, but he is also returning to six furlongs - the distance at which he won the Sapling - after stretching out to a mile when finishing fourth in the Champagne Stakes.

"The good thing about him is that in his two races here, he won the Tyro and the Sapling," Scott Blasi, the top assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said in the Monmouth Park stable area on Wednesday morning. "His race in the Champagne was actually a decent race. He probably doesn't want to go that far. I like him shortening up off a mile race. The Asmussen barn has a good percentage there."

There are several promising, lightly raced 2-year-olds set to face Lantana Mob.

Cobra Strike won first time out here against maidens, then was second in a stakes race at the Meadowlands in which he beat Favorite Trick entrant Indy Joe by a half-length.

Officer Frank romped against statebred maidens in his debut at Arlington Park, then was purchased privately and turned over to Francois Parisel, in whose name trainer Patrick Biancone's horses are running this weekend. Biancone is about to begin a suspension handed down by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.

Law Enforcement, like Lantana Mob a son of sprint sire Posse, has raced exclusively against New York-breds thus far, but has recorded Beyer Speed Figures that put him on a par with Lantana Mob.

West Coast Coach heads in from the Midwest, where he won twice in fast time, including a stakes at Prairie Meadows.

Epitome: Mott, Pletcher, or Euros?

Breeders' Cup Ltd. has not gone so far as to invent a new race called the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, or at least not yet. Instead, a Friday race known as the Epitome BC Stakes is being inaugurated to satisfy that specialized niche, and Monmouth Park horseplayers might be nearly as grateful for the new race as horsemen are for its $250,000 purse.

The one-mile Epitome came up a good one, with a field of 12 that sticks closely to the proviso of Breeders' Cup weekend being a handicapper's delight. With several of the main contenders already having dabbled in two-turn turf stakes, there is enough established form that bettors probably will settle on a filly from the Bill Mott or Todd Pletcher stable as the most likely winner - that is, unless one of the two British fillies who were excluded from the BC Juvenile Fillies, Annie Skates and Joffe's Run, convince bettors that their snub was unjustified.

Mott, the Hall of Famer who has had an uncanny second half of the year by winning the training title at Saratoga and being on the verge of winning another at the Keeneland fall meet, steps up with Namaste's Wish and Life Is Sweet, an uncoupled duo with showy victories in the bank.

Namaste's Wish, a $600,000 yearling purchase for the Live Oak Plantation, could barely get out of her own way when starting her career with two races on dirt, but once Mott spotted her on grass, she suddenly got serious, winning a Saratoga maiden race, then the Sept.o30 Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont Park. Similarly, Life Is Sweet also had one main-track dud before romping in a maiden turf race at Belmont.

Pletcher counters with Sea Chanter, a War Chant filly who already has become something of a pro with four turf outings, including three in stakes, the last of which resulted in a game runner-up finish behind Namaste's Wish in the Miss Grillo.

The English fillies, quite typically, are the unknown quantities. Annie Skates and Joffe's Run ran in the same Group 3 stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago following maiden victories, and both look particularly dangerous since they are being treated with the bleeder medication Lasix for the first time.

At least several more fillies rate high consideration in a deep field, including Grace and Power, Cato Major, and Sales Tax. The Epitome is the sixth of 10 races on Friday, with a post time set for 3:10 p.m. Eastern.

Inside Information: Tessa Blue is hot

Unlike the Epitome and some of the other supporting stakes this week, the $250,000 Inside Information (race 5, post 2:35 p.m.) drew neither a large field nor a particularly compelling storyline. That doesn't bother trainer Frank Brothers, who will be in from Kentucky to saddle Tessa Blue, a filly who suddenly turned the corner when Brothers stretched her out in an August allowance race at Ellis Park. Since then, Tessa Blue ran second in the Prairie Meadows Oaks, then earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in easily winning the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks three weeks ago.

"I guess I'd been hard-headed about it, but basically when I stretched her out, she really started to show what she could do," said Brothers. "She'd had a couple little excuses before that, but after we sent her long she's been able to carry her speed. Not that she has to be in front, but she's just been a different horse."

Tessa Blue, with Mike Smith to ride, is one of only six in the Inside Information, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies on the main track. Tessa Blue was scheduled to arrive Wednesday with a host of Breeders' Cup starters on a charter flight from Kentucky. Brothers is aware that Tessa Blue rates a solid chance in the race partly because of the small field, but, he said, "I know you can't mail it in for $250,000."

Her main challengers figure to be Talkin About Love, a locally based filly who captured the Monmouth Oaks two starts back, and Boca Grande, the Indiana Oaks runner-up for trainer Shug McGaughey. Lost Etiquette, Bare Dancer, and Honorable Truth round out the field.

- additional reporting

by Marty McGee