08/15/2013 1:19PM

Monmouth Park: Hard Enough seeks second straight stakes win in Restoration


OCEANPORT, N.J. – Trainer Bobby Dibona likes where he is sitting with Hard Enough heading into the $60,000 Restoration Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf, the Saturday feature at Monmouth Park.

“I think he’s awesome,” Dibona said. “I plan on winning it.”

Dibona claimed Hard Enough for $50,000 over the winter at Gulfstream Park. The chestnut colt has won twice since then, including a 12-1 upset in Monmouth’s Jersey Derby last month.

The Jersey Derby returned Hard Enough to his own age group following a pair of third-place efforts against older rivals in allowance races.

He had a very clean trip, sitting second behind the pacesetting Shining Copper. Hard Enough collared the leader on the final turn and safely held off the rallying Reporting Star by 1 1/2 lengths.

“He verified to me the kind of horse I thought I had,” Dibona said. “His two races prior to that were bang-up races against older horses with really bad trips. I was waiting for this horse to break through, and I thought he did it in the Jersey Derby.”

And Hard Enough earned a career-best 83 Beyer Speed Figure.

“His number got into a place where it needed to be,” Dibona said.

Now comes the Restoration at 1 1/8 miles, one-sixteenth of a mile farther than the Jersey Derby. Hard Enough has the rail for the longest race of his career.

“He’s giving me the appearance that the added distance is not going to be a problem,” Dibona said.

The likely pace scenario appears very similar to the Jersey Derby. Shining Copper is back in the role of probable pacesetter.

Hard Enough and Paco Lopez will again look for a trip behind Shining Copper, with Chamois, trained by Christophe Clement, looming as the major closing threat.

“We’ll track him like we did last time,” Dibona said of Shining Copper. “When he backs up, we’ll move and try to hold off Clement. I think that’s the race.”

Richard Small sends up an entry of Dynamic Strike and English Minister from his barn at Laurel. The two chestnut colts are homebreds for Fitzhugh LLC.

Dynamic Strike, a three-time winner on dirt, makes his second straight turf start. He missed by only two lengths last time in a statebred stakes at Parx Racing.

English Minister finished eighth in the Jersey Derby.

Always Curious, Chollie D, Michael With Us, and Gun Point complete the field.