07/03/2015 10:51AM

Main Sequence targets United Nations repeat

Barbara D. Livingston
Main Sequence, last year's turf champion, comes into the Grade 1 United Nations off a seventh-place finish in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

It may not rival lining up American Pharoah for the Haskell Invitational, but getting North America’s leading turf horse, Main Sequence, to return to Monmouth Park for Sunday’s Grade 1 United Nations is a coup in itself.

The $500,000 United Nations is where it all began for Main Sequence. He won his U.S. debut in the race a year ago and never looked back, completing an undefeated season with Grade 1 victories in the Sword Dancer, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, and Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Main Sequence was honored with two Eclipse Awards, one as turf champion and the other as top older horse.

Trainer Graham Motion is coming into Sunday’s race with a different mind-set than in 2014.

“The U.N. this year is a completely different scenario for me,” Motion said. “Last year, we were just getting started with him, and we took a shot in the race. We were kind of fishing. Now, he’s the Eclipse Award winner. We know what we have.”

Still, the 1 3/8-mile United Nations has come up strong, and Main Sequence is, well, still Main Sequence. His largest winning margin in five U.S. victories is three-quarters of a length. He also still has a habit of showing last from the starting gate. Get ready for another flying finish.

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This will be the first start for Main Sequence since he finished seventh in the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic on March 28. He hopped at the start of the 1 1/2-mile turf race, then raced closer to the pace than usual before flattening out.

“I think we took the horse out of his game, that we overanalyzed the race and overthought it,” Motion said. “He was far too close. He usually waits until the last second to make his move.”



Motion is pleased with how Main Sequence has trained since returning from Dubai. He has breezed six times at Fair Hill since May 23, with seven days between each work.

“The trip didn’t appear to take anything out of him,” Motion said. “I think I could have run him a couple of weeks ago if I’d wanted.”

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Main Sequence’s main rivals in the nine-horse field are Slumber and Big Blue Kitten, the first- and second-place finishers in the Grade 1 Manhattan; Ashleyluvssugar, who ships in from California off a pair of Grade 2 wins; Twilight Eclipse, who has come close to beating Main Sequence on several occasions; and Grade 1 winner Imagining.

The United Nations is a Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. It will be televised from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. The entire Monmouth card will be streamed live on DRF.com.

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United Nations, race 11

Key Contenders

Main Sequence (N/A-100-106)

◗ Rajiv Maragh knows Main Sequence’s quirks better than anyone and has ridden the 6-year-old gelding in five of his six starts since he was imported from Britain.

Ashleyluvssugar (104-103-91)

◗ Improving 4-year-old enters off Grade 2 wins in the Charles Whittingham and San Luis Rey at Santa Anita for trainer Peter Eurton. Gary Stevens rides.

Slumber (106-95-97)

◗ The Manhattan was his first win in 12 starts, dating to August 2013.

◗ Now 7, Slumber was sent by Juddmonte Farms to the United States from Britain as a 3-year-old in 2011. He was purchased by Michael Dubb and partners last fall and turned over to Chad Brown.

◗ He was blinkers-on and had a smooth trip in the Manhattan, earning a career-high 106 Beyer Speed Figure. He has improved this year but must prove he can duplicate that effort.

Big Blue Kitten (101-102-100)

◗ Trailed in the Manhattan through slow opening fractions, then ran by a lot of horses to grab second in the shadow of the wire. His Fort Marcy season opener was a sharp effort, and at this stage of his career, he might benefit from the extra furlong of this race.

◗ Won the 2013 U.N. under regular rider Joe Bravo.

Twilight Eclipse (99-104-100)

◗ Has finished second or third in all five of Main Sequence’s U.S. starts.

◗ Lacked his usual stretch bid when seventh in the Manhattan, beaten 1 1/4 lengths for second. Expect him to rebound Sunday under new rider Paco Lopez.

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