06/07/2013 3:32PM

Monmouth Park: Boisterous enters Monmouth Stakes off sharp season debut

Barbara D. Livingston
Boisterous is a fresh horse coming into Sunday's Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Trainer Shug McGaughey has big plans for Boisterous this season and they start with the Grade 2, $200,000 Monmouth Stakes on Sunday.

The race is the local prep for Monmouth Park’s premier turf stakes, the Grade 1 United Nations on July 6.

The Monmouth Stakes at 1 1/8 miles drew a solid field that also includes Wrote, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf; the consistent Big Blue Kitten; and Tune Me In, a two-time graded stakes winner here last summer.

McGaughey nominated two runners, Boisterous and Data Link, who captured this race last year. Only Boisterous was entered.

“He needs to run,” McGaughey said of the decision to send Boisterous to the Jersey Shore from his base at Belmont Park. “He’s only run one time this year, and Data Link has run twice.”

That one race was a top-notch effort, a rallying second to Successful Dan in the Grade 3 Ben Ali on the Polytrack at Keeneland.

“I thought he ran great that day,” McGaughey said. “That might have been as good as he’s ever run. It came up a paceless race, and we were five or six lengths back and only got beat a length.”

[MONMOUTH STAKES: Get PPs, watch Sunday’s full card live]

Since then, Boisterous has been ready to go.

“He’s fresh now,” McGaughey said. “He couldn’t be training any better.”

Boisterous, a 6-year-old, had a terrific season in 2012, winning a trio of stakes, including the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct.

After the Monmouth Stakes, Boisterous could be headed west. McGaughey is considering the Poker at Belmont or the Shoemaker Mile at Betfair Hollywood Park, depending on where he can find firm turf.

“He might get a chance at Del Mar too, over the Polytrack,” McGaughey said.

John Velazquez will be aboard.

Wrote will be making only his second U.S. start in the Monmouth Stakes, and his debut for trainer Andrew Mitchell. The Irish-bred 4-year-old, formerly trained by Aidan O’Brien, has not run since June of last year at Ascot.

“We worked him at the beginning of the week, and he looks really good and healthy,” Mitchell said of a four-furlong breeze in 54 seconds Tuesday. “We hope to break well and sit right off the pace. That’s where he likes to be. He’s a Breeders’ Cup winner, and he’s doing everything I ask effortlessly. We really like where we are with him and we like our chances in the stakes.”

Elvis Trujillo gets the mount.

Big Blue Kitten has the sharpest current form, with three wins in his last four races for trainer Chad Brown.

Tune Me In is the most familiar face for local fans, having captured Monmouth’s Grade 3 Oceanport and Cliff Hanger stakes last year.

He made his season debut in the Red Bank Stakes here May 18, losing by less than one length.

The 6-year-old gray gelding trained by Bruce Alexander is certainly comfortable on the course with a record of 5-5-3 in 14 turf starts here.

Two Notch Road (fifth) and Hobbs (10th) also return from the Red Bank.

Hobbs suffered a bruised foot in the Red Bank and will be fitted with glue-on shoes by trainer Kathy Mongeon.

◗ The supporting feature Sunday is the $60,000 John McSorley at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. It was a popular offering with 13 entrants.

Varsity is back to defend his McSorley title for the always competitive Monmouth turf duo of trainer Christophe Clement and jockey Joe Bravo. The 6-year-old gelding makes his first start since running sixth in a field of 16 in the Grade  1, $1 million Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on the Dubai World Cup undercard.