07/07/2011 2:26PM

Monmouth Park: Breen's pair could work together in Long Branch Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Nacho Saint will try to take advantage of an honest pace in the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Trainer Kelly Breen has two strong prospects for the $1 million Haskell Invitational in Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice and Pants On Fire who took the Pegasus Stakes last time out.

Breen could have a third, depending on the outcome of the $150,000 Long Branch Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

The Long Branch is the traditional prep for the Grade 1 Haskell, the premier event of the meet on July 31. The Long Branch winner is traditionally extended an invitation to the Haskell, and Breen is taking two shots with Nacho Saint and Galaxy Kat.

Aside from the Breen duo, the composition of the Long Branch field is very much in flux. Of the 10 entrants, four also were cross-entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Barbaro Stakes at Delaware Park: Will’s Wildcat, Jack London, and the Tony Dutrow-trained entry of Rush Now and All of the Above.

Nacho Saint is the more accomplished of the Breen tandem. He is only 1 for 9, scoring a maiden win at Aqueduct in January. This will be his sixth stakes appearance. The highlights to this point were a second in the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga last year, a fourth to Stay Thirsty in the Grade 3 Gotham, and a third most recently in the Red Legend Stakes at Charles Town.

This could be the breakthrough spot, especially if the Breen duo double team the field.

Galaxy Kat perked up with a first-level win at Parx Racing last month in his debut with blinkers, the same equipment change that helped produce Ruler On Ice’s Belmont Stakes triumph.

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The mission for Galaxy Kat will be to shoot to the front to insure an honest early pace while Nacho Saint bides his time.

“There’s a chance this race could really set up for Nacho Saint,” Breen said. “I anticipate him sitting fourth, just off the pace while the other horse sets the speed. Hopefully, one of our two is in front at the wire.”

Jose Valdivia Jr. rides Nacho Saint, while Stewart Elliott pilots Galaxy Kat.

Like Nacho Saint, Little Drama comes out the Red Legend Stakes, where he was fourth.

The gelded younger half-brother of Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Big Drama, Little Drama, has primarily been a sprinter. This is only his second race beyond seven furlongs. He ran third in a pair of Grade 2 races at Gulfstream Park over the winter, the Hutcheson and the Swale.

Paco Lopez gets the mount from trainer David Fawkes.

Wilburn, Rattlesnake Bridge, and Moonhanger complete the field.

Battlefield: Get Serious eyes rebound

Get Serious will try to get refocused Saturday in the $75,000 Battlefield Stakes at one mile on the turf.

The winner of a trio of Grade 3 grass stakes here last summer, Get Serious is 0 for 2 so far in 2011. He ran fourth most recently after dueling with Get Stormy in the Monmouth Stakes over a course rated good.

Trainer John Forbes is rooting for firm ground and an improved performance from the star of the barn.

“He’s back at his favorite distance and he probably got a lot out of that last race,” Forbes said. “In retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have run him in that spot with the grass a little soft. The way he’s training, I think he’s going to run well.”

Like the Long Branch, the Battlefield lineup is at the mercy of cross-entrants. Of the eight in the field, three also are entered in races at Belmont Park on Saturday: Nownownow, Monument Hill, and Boots Ahead.