06/22/2011 2:05PM

Monmouth: Awesome Son in tough once again

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OCEANPORT, N.J. – Trainer Tim Kelly was hoping to find an easier spot for Awesome Son when he entered him in the third-level, $50,000 claiming co-feature at Monmouth Park on Friday.

It didn’t work out that way.

The six-furlong race is as tough as the stakes races Awesome Son has contested recently.

The new week at Monmouth kicks off with a 12-race card topped by the pair of $54,000 races.

The co-feature offers identical optional claiming conditions for fillies and mares going one mile on the turf.

Awesome Son, a 4-year-old gelding, started his Monmouth season with a pair of in-the-money stakes finishes. He was third behind This Ones For Phil in the Decathlon and second most recently to runaway winner Sean Avery in the Longfellow.

This isn’t coming up much easier.

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The lineup includes the very talented New Jersey-bred Partyallnightlong and Despite the Odds, third most recently in a fourth-level allowance at Presque Isle for trainer Michael Trombetta.

“I don’t know about class relief,” Kelly said. “It’s tougher than a stakes. Partyallnightlong has already proven himself a legitimate stakes horse. Trombetta’s horse looks like a monster. It’s not an easy three-other-than at all.”

Awesome Son insures the race will have a legitimate pace with his strong early speed. His two Monmouth races follow a lengthy layoff following the removal of knee chips.

“He ran hard in both races,” Kelly said. “He came out of the last race super. I was hoping for an easier spot because he has already had a couple of surgeries on his knees. We wanted to take it easy on him when he first came back. The game plan hasn’t worked yet. We entered in the three-other-than a couple of times and it didn’t go, so we were forced to run in stakes. They finally got it to go but it’s obviously a very tough spot.”

Partyallnightlong is 5-1-3 in 10 career starts, and a proven winner in open company. He hit the board in three open stakes last year: the Gilded Time on the turf, the Gallant Bob, and the Rutgers.

The 4-year-old homebred colt for trainer Eddie Broome and longtime client Richard Malouf kicked off the new season with a second-level allowance win here late last month.

Despite the Odds has a history of solid stakes efforts. He will be seeking his first win since the rained-off 2009 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park.

In the co feature, Akilina ships in from Belmont Park for trainer Christophe Clement. A New York-bred 5-year-old, she is looking to get back into the win column. Her last victory came 12 starts ago, an overnight stakes at the Fair Ground in late 2009.

Joe Bravo will be aboard for Clement, a combination that is 5-2-4 in their last 19 starts here.

Island Time, winner of Monmouth’s Desert Vixen Stakes last summer, makes her second start of the meet for trainer Jason Servis. She stretches out following a sixth in the 5 1/2-furlong Ft. Monmouth Stakes.