05/24/2012 2:53PM

Monmouth: Pants On Fire goes for confidence boost in Skip Away

Barbara D. Livingston
After two losses against Grade 2 competition, Pants On Fire will drop into a listed stakes for Saturday's Skip Away.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward.

Trainer Kelly Breen hopes that philosophy works with Pants On Fire in the $75,000 Skip Away Stakes on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

“We’re just looking to get him back to his winning ways,” Breen said. “He’s had some tough races on the road. Now he’s back home. We want to let him win a heat, and then we’ll see

The 12-race card starting at 12:50 p.m. Eastern kicks off the holiday racing weekend on the Jersey Shore as Monmouth offers three programs through Memorial Day.

Pants On Fire was a leading 3-year-old last season, capturing a pair of graded stakes – the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds and the Pegasus at Monmouth.

His season ended with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, Monmouth’s premier event.

That was the final start of the campaign as Pants On Fire sustained a training injury prior to the Pennsylvania Derby, and was given the rest of the season off.

Pants On Fire returned from vacation in March with a bang-up win at Gulfstream Park, a commanding allowance victory with a career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

He failed to fire in his next two, both Grade 2 stakes – the New Orleans Handicap and the Charles Town Classic.

“He ran a pretty good one for the first one back,” Breen said. “Now we just got to get him to repeat it.”

Pants On Fire will reunite with Paco Lopez, who was aboard for the Gulfstream allowance win.

The Skip Away drew a field of seven for the 1 1/16-mile race. Joe Vann is the only other graded winner in field, having captured last year’s Illinois Derby.

Also entered are Norman Asbjornson, Gold Strike Begins, Cactus Charlie, Goombada Guska, and Those Wer the Days, a half-brother to Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another.

Lamplighter questionable for turf

A heavy downpour soaked Monmouth on Thursday morning, not a good omen for the runners in Saturday’s supporting feature, the $60,000 Lamplighter for 3-year-olds on the turf.

It should be a competitive event, if the race stays on the grass.

Owner-trainer Dennis Manning entered a pair of lightly raced horses, Crafty Unicorn and Raging Lion, for the 1 1/16-mile stakes.

Manning plans to definitely run Crafty Unicorn here. Raging Lion might head out of town.

This will be Crafty Unicorn's third start, after he easily won over the synthetic track at the Ocala Training Center before switching to grass to get third in the Sophomore Turf Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

“He ran kind of green that day,” Manning said. “A horse was in front of him and a horse came out a little bit, and he got intimidated. I thought he was going to run up the track but the next thing I know, he got back to running again.”

Terri Pompay will stretch out Lost Decade after a win and a third in Gulfstream turf sprints.

“My feeling is the horse will have no problem going the distance,” Pompay said. “He doesn’t want a lot of rushing. We don’t know which horse in this field will be the really good one, but I like my horse a lot.”