05/18/2012 12:36PM

Monmouth: Freud's Honor begins season on turf in Sunday feature

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Freud’s Honour, a New Jersey-bred colt who took to the turf so well that he was able to upset open stakes company in his second try on the surface, begins his 4-year-old campaign in Sunday’s featured ninth race at Monmouth Park, a second-level optional $32,000 claimer scheduled for one mile on grass.

For the first five races of his career, three as a 2-year-old with John Tammaro and his first two starts last spring for Greg Sacco, Freud’s Honour was strictly a dirt sprinter.

Sacco experimented by trying Freud’s Honour in the Anderson Fowler, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds, and the colt responded by rallying from eighth to get third, beaten nearly four lengths. Sacco was encouraged enough by the effort to ask Freud’s Honour to stretch out around two turns for the first time in the Choice, a 1 1/8-mile race for open company 3-year-olds. Allowed to loaf on the lead through a half-mile in 50.05 seconds, Freud’s Honour was in front all the way at 18-1.

He proved that performance was no fluke when he shipped to Saratoga and missed by a head in the Times Square division of the $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes series going a mile. Both Freud’s Honour and the winner that day, Hessonite, are sons of the New York sire Freud.

The question now is whether Freud’s Honour is ready to fire first time back following an eight-month layoff. Sacco is 0 for 12 the last five years with horses returning in a turf route following a break of more than 180 days.

Two intriguing alternatives are Play It Straight and Admiral Perry.

The 4-year-old Play It Straight is among 40 horses Jane Cibelli has brought north from Florida in an attempt to defend her title as leading trainer at Monmouth. Play It Straight cleared his first allowance condition at Tampa Bay Downs in early March, then regressed when he took the next natural step up in class at Gulfstream Park. He returns equipped with blinkers for the first time and sporting a best-of-31 four-furlong bullet in 48 seconds.

Admiral Perry won his turf debut at Tampa in January 2011 and gets back on the surface for the first time since then. He makes the second start of his form cycle and stretches out from a sprint to a route while moving from dirt to turf. That angle has produced a 50 pecent hit rate (3 for 6) and a $6 return on investment for trainer Shug McGaughey.