06/22/2009 11:00PM

Luna Vega's last figure looks good


Thursday's feature at Monmouth Park, an optional $32,000 claimer and second-level allowance at one mile and 70 yards on the main track, drew only six fillies and mares, but it's a well-matched half-dozen.

Luna Vega looms as the favorite on the strength of her latest Beyer, an 85 earned in the mud on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs. She beat entry-level allowance runners there, benefiting from a forward trip on top of some slow fractions, and she topped a two-speed exacta over pacesetter Susie Gal. The early tempo figures to be quicker in Thursday's feature, the eighth of nine races on the card, but Luna Vega can also rate off the pace and make one run, and she can be expected to revert to those tactics.

Elvis Trujillo, the leading jockey at the meet, will ride Luna Vega for the first time.

Bruce Levine, who tops the trainer standings at Monmouth, is represented by Lucky Revival, a likely pacesetter. Lucky Revival comes off a win against nonwinners-of-three optional claimers over this track, and though the win came against only two rivals, she earned a decent 79 Beyer. That win was her third in five starts at Monmouth Park, and she was second in her other two tries there, so she clearly likes the track. Eddie Castro, who rode Lucky Revival in that last win, will again be aboard.

Stage Trick comes out of a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico. She didn't run badly there, moving up to press early leader and eventual winner Payton d'Oro before fading late. Stage Trick was given a Beyer of 82 in the Black-Eyed Susan, and she looms a threat on Thursday if she can run back to that figure. Chuck Lopez, who rode Stage Trick in her debut, gets the mount for trainer Alan Goldberg.

The Mark Hennig-trained Roxyana has steady Beyers, and she was second in her return from a short layoff last time out. She took a good position behind the speed in that try, which came against nonwinner-of-two allowance routers, and she figures to be ideally spotted once again under Joe Bravo.

River Blades, who tries two turns for the first time, and Burning Calories, a two-time winner over this track, round out the field.