08/24/2011 12:25PM

Monmouth Park: Benny Or Local, The Hunk give Perkins two shots in sprint feature


OCEANPORT, N.J. – An earthquake gently rocked Monmouth Park on Tuesday. Hurricane Irene could lash the area over the weekend.

Welcome to the Jersey Shore, where racing fans will keep one eye on the Friday through Sunday cards, and the other on the storm track. Mother Nature will play a major role in how this weekend unfolds.

It kicks off Friday with a 12-race card topped by a $50,000 starter allowance for New Jersey-breds going six furlongs.

Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. sends out an uncoupled duo of Benny Or Local and The Hunk with contrasting styles.

“Benny or local?” is a frequently asked question on the Jersey Shore by year-round residents who resent the influx of northerners for the beach season. Benny was initially a derogative acronym for visitors from Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York but is now applied to all outsiders.

Benny Or Local certainly loved his Monmouth homecoming earlier this month, picking up his maiden win following a pair of races earlier in the year at Parx Racing and Aqueduct.

A 3-year-old gelding, Benny Or Local rallied from eighth with a strong outside run to get the victory.

“He had a little setback at the beginning of the meet where he was scratched at the gate,” Perkins said. “We worked on a couple of things and he came back pretty good. We want to get some New Jersey-bred racing into him before it’s done for the season.”

Pablo Fragoso has the return call.

The Hunk, in contrast, will be out and winging right from the break. This will be his fourth try in this condition at the meet. In the previous three, The Hunk set the pace and settled for seconds.

Perkins is encouraged by the fact that two of the horses that beat The Hunk – All of the Above and Bombast – came back to win their next races.

All of the Above later went on to miss by a nose in the Long Branch Stakes, the prep for the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

“He has some issues but he has a lot of talent,” Perkins said of The Hunk. “He’s a really fast horse and it took pretty nice horses to beat him. He’s been running against a pretty solid bunch of New Jersey-breds.”

Carlos Marquez, Jr. will again be aboard.

Jersey Storm Cat, a winner against open claimers most recently, goes out for trainer Patricia Farro.