05/26/2011 2:25PM

Monmouth: Get Serious will try to regain form in June 12 Monmouth Stakes

Bill Denver/Equiphotos
Get Serious, winning last year's Oceanport, may just need a return to turf to regain his good form.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Get Serious got little out of his first start, a disappointing effort his camp hopes to quickly forgive and forget.

The 7-year-old Get Serious was one of the heroes of Monmouth Park last summer, winning a trio of Grade 3 turf stakes: the Monmouth, the Oceanport, and the Red Bank. His only loss here last year came in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes where he gamely set the pace in a race beyond his distance scope at 1 3/8 miles.

After that banner summer, co-trainers John Forbes and Pat McBurney set their sights on the Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf. An ankle injury scuttled those plans, and sent Get Serious off to an early, extended vacation.

His comeback was the Elkwood Stakes on May 21 at Monmouth, slated at one mile on the grass. It looked like an ideal spot for Get Serious on his favorite course, until it rained most of the week leading up to race.

The race came off the turf. That has often been an ace in the hole for Get Serious. In addition to being a standout turf runner, he also loves a sloppy, sealed main track like the one he caught for his victory in rained-off Oceanport in 2009.

This time, off-the-turf meant a shift onto a fast main track. That was the root of the problem, Forbes and McBurney believe. Sent off the 8-5 favorite, Get Serious never got into the race, beaten 23 1/2 lengths.

“We’re just hoping he hated the dirt that day,” McBurney said. “He came out of the race acting fine. Off-the-turf and slop he likes, he doesn’t really like a fast track. He just needed to get a race under his belt.”

The plan now is to regroup for a title defense in the Monmouth Stakes on June 12. McBurney ruled out a return try in the U.N., saying Get Serious won’t be asked to run beyond the 1 1/8 miles in the Monmouth Stakes.

Jersey Shore next target for Vengeful Wildcat

Vengeful Wildcat has never run a poor race. The 3-year-old colt’s worst margin of defeat was only three-quarters of a length in the Fred Cappossela Stakes at Aqueduct in early March.

He never showed more heart and determination than in his victory in the Chick Lang Stakes last weekend on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.

Vengeful Wildcat gutted out a neck victory to improve to 3-2-1 in 6 starts. He had solid season last summer at Monmouth, winning his first two races, including the Tyro Stakes. His final start of the campaign was a game second in the Grade 3 Sapling, where he recovered from a bad stumble at the start to miss by only a half-length behind Madman Diaries, Canada’s Champion 2-year-old.

“He’d been training well since last year,” trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said. “He’s a nice little horse.”

The Cappossela, his first race of the year, was followed by the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct at seven furlongs. Leading in the lane, Vengeful Wildcat was nipped at the wire.

“He ran really hard but just couldn’t hang on,” Perkins said. “I think three-quarters might be his ideal distance.”

Then came the Chick Lang, where he beat Chipshot by a neck.

Looking to keep Vengeful Wildcat at six furlongs, Perkins will now point him to Monmouth’s Grade 3 Jersey Shore Stakes on July 3.

◗ Bobby Whalen, a longtime fixture on the backstretch at Monmouth and Gulfstream Park, died on May 14 at age 67 at his home in Dunedin, Fla. In more than five decades, he held a variety jobs, including jockey, exercise rider, assistant trainer, and detention barn attendant.