07/26/2013 2:09PM

Monmouth Park: Funny Proposition, Joyful Victory square off in Molly Pitcher


Funny Proposition will try to continue her ascension in the older filly and mare division, while Joyful Victory will try to regain her status as an early season division leader when the two meet in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The Molly Pitcher, run at 1 1/16 miles, drew a field of six, including the local hopeful Lady Samuri, who has gone from $10,000 claimer to listed stakes winner.

Funny Proposition enters the Molly Pitcher off a five-length upset of two-time champion Royal Delta in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap last month at Churchill Downs. In that race, Funny Proposition secured the early lead and was never threatened. Royal Delta came out of that race to win the Delaware Handicap by 10 lengths.

With Joyful Victory and Lady Samuri in this field, Funny Proposition is unlikely to secure the early lead Sunday, but she has previously won from a stalking position.

Mark Casse, trainer of Funny Proposition, said he expects Joyful Victory “to be on the lead. I’m hoping our filly can stalk, that’s going to be the plan.”

[HASKELL INVITATIONAL: Get PPs, watch Sunday’s card live]

Casse’s bigger concern is how Funny Proposition handles Monmouth Park. Funny Proposition, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, is 4 for 4 on dirt at Churchill Downs and winless elsewhere. Miguel Mena rides from post 4.

Casse said Funny Proposition came out of the Fleur de Lis “better than ever. She’s trained extremely well. We got to hope she likes Monmouth Park as much as Churchill Downs.”

Joyful Victory has won races at five tracks, including Santa Anita where she captured the Grade 1 Santa Margarita in March. Sent off the even-money favorite in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont on May 27, Joyful Victory was prompted through strong early fractions by Authenticity and finished fifth of six, beating only stablemate Believe You Can.

“She just ran so damn fast in the early going, she ran herself off her feet,” Jones said.

Jones gave Joyful Victory an easy month after that, but she has since come back with three strong works. Jones fully expects Joyful Victory to rebound and be in front under Rosie Napravnik on Sunday.

“We’re going to let her run out of there,” Jones said. “If they want the lead, they’re going to have to earn it.”

Lady Samuri was claimed for $10,000 by trainer Yvon Belsoeur in April at Tampa Bay. Since the claim, Lady Samuri has won three consecutive races at Monmouth, including an 8 1/4-length score in the Lighthouse Stakes on June 30.

Successful Song, last year’s Molly Pitcher runner-up trained by Eddie Plesa, was a clear second in the Lighthouse and is hoping to return to the form that saw her win two Florida-bred stakes at Gulfstream Park during the winter.

Wine Princess, last in the Fleur de Lis, and Winiliscious, last in the Lighthouse, complete the field.