06/28/2012 1:15PM

Monmouth: Heavenly Landing tries to prevent summer rerun in Eatontown

Bob Coglianese
Heavenly Landing, winner of the Grade 3 Marshua’s River in January, will try to duplicate that form in the Grade 3 Eatontown at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – The Grade 3, $100,000 Eatontown Stakes on Saturday at Monmouth Park is a carbon copy of the Violet Stakes run here on Memorial Day.

It’s the same 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares. The stakes grading and purse are identical.

Not surprisingly, the top three Violet finishers—Ruthenia, Pinch Pie, and Unbridled Humor—return for a rematch.

The major change from the Violet is the supporting cast, which sports several interesting new faces, topped by Heavenly Landing.

[MONMOUTH PARK: Get PPs and watch Saturday’s full card live]

A 5-year-old trained by Eddie Kenneally, Heavenly Landing already owns a Grade 3 victory this season, the Marshua’s River at Gulfstream Park in January.

Her three most recent efforts were all in Kentucky, starting with the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. She wasn’t a factor in either race.

It was a different story earlier this month with the drop back to a Grade 3 for the Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs at the Eatontown distance of 1 1/16 miles.

Changing tactics as a 9-1 outsider, Heavenly Landing with Corey Lanerie aboard, jumped right out to the lead.

“It just turned out there was absolutely no pace in that race,” Kenneally said. “She broke sharp and Corey elected to let her go to the lead and she relaxed nicely. They didn’t go too fast and it turned out it was a good effort.”

After fending off early pressure, Heavenly Landing turned for home a 2 1/2-length lead, only to get nailed in the final strides by Bizzy Caroline.

“It looked like she was doing it pretty easily,” Kenneally said. “When she opened up turning for home, it looked like she had something left in the tank, which she did. It took a very nice filly to run her down.”

After the race, Kenneally shipped Heavenly Landing to his division at Belmont Park. He looked at a number of options but the Eatontown was the most appealing.

“The mile and a sixteenth looks like the distance that she fits,” Kenneally said. “And the fact that’s a Grade 3. We didn’t want to run against the real good fillies in the country. We figured there wouldn’t be a pile of Grade 1-caliber horses in there.”

True enough, but the nine-horse field is certainly well matched. And it could contain a rising star in Ruthenia, who comes into the Eatontown following back-to-back wins.

The 4-year-old Ruthenia surged through the lane in the Violet to outkick Pinch Pie by one length and earn her first graded victory. She hails from the sizzling Christophe Clement barn that is 6-1-1 from 11 starters at the meet.

◗ The supporting feature Saturday also showcases fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles.

Only this one is on the main track for the $75,000 Lighthouse Stakes.

The prep for the Grade 2, $200,000 Molly Pitcher on the Haskell Day undercard drew a full field of 12, including an uncoupled pair from trainer Todd Pletcher, Savvy Supreme and R. Gypsy Gold.