05/27/2010 11:00PM

Luna Vega, Just Jenda facing off

Email

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Luna Vega and Just Jenda were both unbeaten in two races at Monmouth Park last year. Each scored an impressive win here in a graded stakes. Something has to give Sunday when they square off for the first time in the $100,000 Monmouth Beach Stakes for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards.

The Monmouth Beach is the top event on a 12-race card that also includes the $100,000 Little Silver Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf.

The Monmouth Beach is much more than a match race. The nine-horse field also includes Talkin About Love, winner of the 2007 Monmouth Oaks, My Dinah, Starship Angel, Ask the Moon, Manitoba Miss, Bon Jovi Girl, and McVictory.

The Monmouth Beach will be the second start of the season for Luna Vega, who finished last in the five-horse Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn. The 5-year-old arrived at Steve Asmussen's Monmouth barn on Friday morning and later schooled in the paddock.

After winning a second-level allowance here last June, Luna Vega ran sixth to Seventh Street in the slop at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Go for Wand. Back at Monmouth, she regrouped smartly with a strong rally to take the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher, posting a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

"We know that she likes this track," said Bill Wilson, the assistant overseeing Asmussen's New Jersey division. "I was with her in the spring in Keeneland. She looked great when I last saw her, and she's been training steady at Belmont.

Cindy Jones also looks for a strong bounce-back from Just Jenda, who had the misfortune of facing Zenyatta last time out in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park. The 4-year-old Just Jenda finished fourth in the five-horse field.

"She was awfully tired for a few days after that," Jones said. "Zenyatta is the best racehorse we've ever seen in our lifetime -- boy, girl, bar none."

Since then, Just Jenda has been training sensationally at Delaware Park, with bullet workouts in two of her last three breezes.