08/03/2012 2:12PM

Monmouth: Cliff Hanger likely to feature Get Serious vs. Tune Me In rematch

David Owens/Equi-Photo
Tune Me In (left) and Get Serious (right) are likely to face each other in the Cliff Hanger.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Get Serious and Tune Me In are both on track for a rematch in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger on Labor Day weekend at Monmouth Park.

They had an intense get-acquainted session in the Grade 3 Oceanport on the Haskell undercard.

Get Serious, a two-time Oceanport winner, fired right to the front as expected, only to find 25-1 shot Tune Me In running right with him.

They raced head to head for most of the race through extremely slow fractions with Tune Me In edging clear in the final stages to hold off a late run from the Todd Pletcher-trained Queen’splatekitten. Get Serious was third, beaten only three-quarters of a length.

Heading into the race, Bruce Alexander, Tune Me In’s trainer, had low expectations.

“Going into the spot, near zero,” said Alexander. “At the half-mile pole, I was 85 percent confident he would be first or second. The longer the race went, the better I felt. Before the race, I thought he was up against it a bit.”

It was the first stakes victory for the 5-year-old Tune Me In.

“Pace makes the race,” Alexander said. “If we’d gone faster, Pletcher would be in the winner’s circle.”

John Forbes, trainer of Get Serious, blamed the loss on an overnight storm. While the course was listed as firm, it was softer than Get Serious prefers.

“The jockey said he was running but he wasn’t getting anywhere,” Forbes said. “He just didn’t handle it that well. I thought he ran a good race, considering. I had half a mind not to run after it rained an inch the night before. He was just not getting over it. Some horses love it like that. He likes it hard. I’d love to take on that horse [Tune Me In] again on a really firm course.”

Turf Monster one possibility for Royal Currier

Royal Currier used a typically gutsy effort to capture his second straight Monmouth stakes in the $100,000 Teddy Drone for sprinters on the Haskell undercard.

The 4-year-old Royal Currier hasn’t missed a beat since recovering from a back ailment that knocked him out of the Donald LeVine Memorial at Parx Racing earlier in the summer.

Now comes the big decision for the next start. One option: play it safe and go for a Monmouth stakes hat trick in the $75,000 Icecapade Stakes on Labor Day. Or take the big swing that same day: the Grade 3, $350,000 Turf Monster at Parx, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In stakes.

“I would love to be in the race if it were to come off the turf,” said Mike Farro, who trains the Monmouth division for wife Patricia. “Going five-eighths of a mile on dirt for $350,000 on the engine, I think he’d be pretty tough.”

Royal Currier, claimed for $20,000 from his second start, does own a grass stakes win, last year’s Anderson Fowler at Monmouth.

“If we happened to get lucky and win that race, we’d definitely think about the Breeders’ Cup,” Farro said. “But then, there’s nothing wrong with the Icecapade. These little races are fun. And they add up.”

The Teddy Drone was Royal Currier’s 12th win in 26 starts. He has earned $678,550.

Haskell Day evaluation

The “new” management team at Monmouth Park was satisfied with the first Haskell Day on its watch, even if the numbers were soft.

Darby Development took over this year, replacing the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority while leaving most of the top management in place, including president Bob Kulina.

“We had a good day,” Kulina said. “Operationally it went well. The race was a good race and the crowd was what it was. It was right about what I projected it to be.”

Attendance was 35,253, the smallest since 1999.

The problem was none of the leading Triple Crown figures – I’ll Have Another, Bodemeister, or Union Rags – was in the Haskell lineup.

“Considering the way things changed on a weekly basis after the Belmont, the division has gone through some tough times,” Kulina said. “I think we had a representative race. We couldn’t expect anything better. The stars don’t stay out there as long as we’d like.

“We’ll move forward. For next year, we have some thoughts on how to grow the weekend a little more.”