07/21/2011 3:36PM

Monmouth: Breen may work Haskell pair in company

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Ruler On Ice works five furlongs in 1:02.60 with jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. riding.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Trainer Kelly Breen is considering having Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice and Pegasus Stakes winner Pants On Fire work in company when both horses have their final drill for the $1 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds.

That workout could come Sunday, if the heat wave that forced the cancellation of Monmouth’s Friday card finally relents. If Sunday is still too hot, the final work will shift to Monday.

“I might actually breeze the both of them together,” Breen said. “I didn’t want them going too fast last week. This week, I will be looking for a little bit quicker time.”

Last Sunday, Ruler On Ice went five furlongs in 1:02.60 while Pants On Fire was clocked in a 49-second half-mile.

“I’m still contemplating it,” Breen said. “They have worked together in the past. They worked together right before the Louisiana Derby which Pants On Fire won.”

Breen likes what he sees at this point.

“They are both doing fantastic. Pants On Fire is really feeling his oats. Last week’s workout put them on their toes without getting them too tired. Right now, I’m sitting right where I wanted to be sitting.”

The Haskell field is starting to take shape. Stakes coordinator Dan Dufford has three firm commitments in addition to the Breen-trained duo: Preakness winner Shackleford, Astrology, and Tesio winner Concealed Identity. Trainer Bob Baffert said he will run a horse, most likely Coil, who missed by a head in the Swaps Stakes after winning the Affirmed at Hollywood Park.

That’s a lineup of six.

J J’s Lucky Train, the Bay Shore winner who most recently ran second in the Woody Stephens, is a possibility.

Claimer takes feature spot

When the Desert Vixen Stakes failed to fill, Monmouth’s Saturday feature became the $52,000 second-level claimer for filly and mare turf sprinters where Cherry On the Top, as usual, will be the one to catch in the 5 1/2-furlong dash.

A 6-year-old, Cherry On the Top figures to be out and winging. She used those tactics to pick up a pair of thirds at the meet, including the Ft. Monmouth Stakes.

Trainer Jane Cibelli would have preferred a shorter race. She ran Cherry On the Top one level above this condition last time out to take advantage of five-furlong opportunity.

“She is obviously better going five-eighths,” Cibelli said. “She’s a very tough horse to train. She trains like she runs, it’s all now. She always gives you 100 percent. The problem is she won’t rate. If she could come off the pace a little bit, she’d be a much better horse.”

Angel Serpa has the job of trying to conserve as much speed as possible.”

Love That Dance in better spot

Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. decided the timing and the weight assignment were all wrong for Love That Dance last weekend in the $65,000 Spruce Fir Handicap for New Jersey bred fillies and mares where she was assigned 125 pounds for the one-mile, 70-yard race.

So he scratched her in favor of the $100,000 Regret Stakes at six furlongs on the Haskell undercard.

The cutback in distance was a plus.

“We wanted to run on Haskell Day and we thought it might be a little bit too much for her coming back on two weeks’ rest,” Perkins said. “She beat open fillies a couple of times last year.”

The final incentive was the purse. As a New Jersey-bred competing in open company, Love That Dance is eligible for a 40-percent bonus for hitting the board, effectively making the value of the Regret $140,000 for her.

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