06/09/2009 11:00PM

Looking for big finish with Kiss the Kid


OCEANPORT, N.J. - This could be the final racing season for Kiss the Kid, and owner-trainer Amy Tarrant would like to send him off with a flourish.

"He's earned over $600,000 for me, and we'd like to get him a little bit higher," Tarrant said.

The 6-year-old has been running as well as ever, with three stakes wins in his last five races.

His next assignment will be a tough one: the $200,000 Monmouth Stakes on Saturday at Monmouth Park. The second running of the 1 1/8-mile grass stakes attracted a strong field topped by multiple Grade 1 winner Grand Couturier, who will be making his first start since running 11th in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita last October.

Other top runners in the field include Presious Passion, winner of the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes here last summer, and Strike a Deal, winner of the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap last fall at Aqueduct.

Big Brown celebration

Big Brown is gone, off on a new career at stud, but he won't be forgotten Saturday at Monmouth.

They will be painting the track brown, not literally, but in every figurative sense. The day will be a celebration of the Eclipse Award winner who captured the Haskell Invitational and the Monmouth Stakes in two visits here last year.

And there will be something for everyone, as all paid admissions receive a Big Brown bobble head doll, while supplies last.

IEAH Stables, Big Brown's majority owner, will be the presenting sponsor of the Monmouth Stakes, and IEAH's president, Michael Iavarone, will hold an autograph signing session.

The crowning moment will be the induction of Big Brown into Monmouth's Hall of Champions in a winner's circle ceremony.

Trujillo rushes to the front

Elvis is in the house, and leading the rider standings.

Jockey Elvis Trujillo started the meet strongly, running second to Eddie Castro after the opening weekends in May. With the meet finally settling in a five-day-per-week schedule in June, Trujillo kicked it up a notch.

Trujillo booted home 12 winners from 30 mounts last week to open a clear lead on Castro and Joe Bravo.

"Every time you go to a different place, the first part is hard," Trujillo said. "You have to work hard and give it time. This time, things have fallen nicely into place."

Trujillo is riding with confidence for some top outfits, including leading trainer Jason Servis.

"Jason has given me a lot of opportunities," Trujillo said. "A lot of trainers are giving me chances with good horses."

And Trujillo is healthy this year after suffering a number of wrist and hand injuries in spills in recent seasons.

Trujillo, 25, quietly had a solid, but truncated, season here last summer. He arrived after the meet began, finishing riding commitments at Churchill Downs. His meet ended early with a broken wrist in September when he lost his irons and fell to turf, an injury that sidelined him for two months.

In between, Trujillo had 61 wins from 275 mounts, good for seventh in the standings.

Trujillo is another in the long line of prominent riders from Panama. A graduate of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey School, Trujillo arrived in the United States in the fall of 2001. He scored a Breeders' Cup win with Maryfield in the Filly and Mare Sprint in 2007.

Lord Justice may fill in for Pletcher

Trainer Todd Pletcher lost a potential candidate for the $1 million Haskell Invitational here Aug. 2 when Dunkirk suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

A replacement could be close at hand. Lord Justice, a member of Pletcher's New Jersey division, was a sharp front-running winner of the Spend a Buck Stakes for 3-year-old here on May 30.

The next step will be the $175,000 Long Branch Stakes on July 11, Monmouth's traditional Haskell prep.

"It's nice spacing," Pletcher said. "We'll see how that goes. Hopefully, he'll run well enough to earn a spot in the Haskell.

"He seemed to like the track. It seems to suit him and his style. He's kind of a forwardly placed horse and that's an effective way to run at Monmouth."