09/15/2011 2:10PM

Monmouth Park: Dabnabit targets sweep of New Jersey-bred sprint stakes


OCEANPORT, N.J. – Dabnabit goes for a sweep of the statebred sprint stakes, while Who’s the Cowboy, a recent entrant into the millionaire’s club, will need every bit of his back class in the richest event on the day as Monmouth Park presents the ninth annual New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival on Saturday.

The festival salutes the state’s breeding program, with 12 races exclusively for New Jersey-breds. A trio of handicaps top the program: the $100,000 Charles Hesse III and a pair of $60,000 events, the New Jersey Breeders and the Jersey Girl Handicap.

Dabnabit might finally get some respect from the bettors in the six-furlong New Jersey Breeders.

Now 6, Dabnabit won this race last year by five decisive lengths at 10-1.

In his first start of the meet, Dabnabit took the John J. Reilly Handicap at 16-1. After two races against open company, Dabnabit dropped back in against the statebreds to capture the Colts Neck Handicap at 12-1.

That extended his winning streak against New Jersey-breds to three, all handicaps.

Not surprisingly, Dabnabit will shoulder top weight of 120 pounds against five rivals, with Victor Santiago aboard for trainer Luis Carvajal Jr.

This will be his first race since the Colts Neck on Aug. 21. He stayed sharp with a bullet workout last weekend, a half-mile in 46.60 seconds at Monmouth.

“I’m really happy that the horse has won two stakes already this year,” Carvajal said. “It would be really nice to win this next one, but I’m not that greedy. He’s doing good, and he worked really good the other day. There are some other good horses in there with speed. Hopefully, we can go all the way again.”

Dabnabit does his best work right on the pace.

So does Unwritten, who forced the issue unsuccessfully against Dabnabit in the last year’s New Jersey Breeders and earlier in the meet in the Reilly.

Unwritten will be reunited with trainer Tim Hills for the race, having been claimed by breeder T-N-Jay Farm last time out for $15,000 from a winning effort.

Hop Skip and Away, Voodoo Charm, Arctic Air, and Together Indy complete the field.

Hesse: ‘Cowboy‘ sharp going long

After spending most of his career as a homebred for the Sleeter family, Who’s the Cowboy has kept his bags packed lately.

A 9-year-old gelding, Who’s the Cowboy has had four different trainers this year. He is currently with Chuck Spina, who claimed him for $15,000 from the winning effort that put him over the $1 million barrier.

He has run once for Spina, missing by a head in an open claimer.

Most of his success has come as closing sprinter. Lately, Who’s the Cowboy has enjoyed a revival going long. The 1 1/16-mile Hesse will be his fourth straight route race, with a win and a pair of near-misses in the last three outings.

Spina hopes Who’s the Cowboy can get the barn over the hump. Spina is 1 for 41 at the meet, with five seconds and four thirds.

“It’s been a rough meet,” Spina said. “It goes that way some times.”

It’s not too late to turn it around, if Who’s the Cowboy comes through Saturday.

“He ran a terrific race when we ran him back,” Spina said. “He’s got a shot in here. If he runs back to that race, he should be right there. He’s a nice old horse, I’m happy to have him. He is certainly worth the $15,000 we gave for him. Some of these old geldings, honest horses, they know how to keep going. It’s certainly worth taking shot for $100,000 with a horse you just claimed for $15,000.”

The six-horse field includes the last two Hesse winners, Goombada Guska last year and Hermosillo in 2009.

Gunfighter and Hung Jury are a couple of fresh 4-year-old faces in the Hesse.

Long or short, open or New Jersey-bred, Gunfighter has not been worse than second in five starts at the meet. His lone win came in the Bernie Dowd Handicap at a mile and 70 yards.

Hung Jury is the least experienced runner in the group, with only eight starts. He was a game second most recently against first-level open company.

◗ Emily Allstar looks for her first win since capturing last year’s Jersey Girl Handicap. She picked up a pair of seconds at Monmouth this season, both against open allowance company.

Cee the Country switches back to the main track at 1 1/16 miles after beating open company at the same distance on the turf.