Updated on 05/17/2012 7:50PM

Monmouth Park: Presious Passion returns in Elkwood Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Presious Passion will make his first start since January 2011 in Saturday's $75,000 Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth Park.

It has taken a great deal of time and a surgical procedure, but Presious Passion is finally ready to resume racing.

Unraced since January 2011, the 9-year-old Presious Passion will launch his comeback Saturday at a distance far less than he usually prefers in the $75,000 Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth Park.

A confirmed front-runner who won back-to-back runnings of the Grade 1 United Nations in 2008 and 2009 during a career in which he has earned $2.6 million, Presious Passion will use the one-mile Elkhorn as a stepping-stone to the Grade 2, $200,000 Monmouth Stakes on June 10.

“He had a breathing problem that contributed to his attitude problem,” trainer Mary Hartmann said of Presious Passion’s nearly 18-month absence. “He spent most of last year on the farm, and then I picked him up to take him down to Florida with me in the fall. He was training, and his throat problem finally came to the point where it could be treated.

“He had throat surgery to correct the breathing problem, and the surgery was successful,” Hartmann said. “He looks good, he’s training well, and his attitude is good.”

Hartmann said she is more concerned with the timing of Saturday’s race than the distance. Presious Passion has not raced as short as a mile since finishing seventh in the 2007 running of the Red Bank.

“The Elkwood is only a mile, not his best distance,” Hartmann said. “But it’s the perfect spot to bring him back to the races. If all goes well in that, we’ll point him for the Monmouth Stakes on June 10.”

Hartmann also said if Presious Passion shows that he can't be competitive with this group, his racing days are over.

"He’s doing quite well, training well and he seems to still like racing," Hartmann said. "We’ll see on Saturday. If he doesn’t fire, we’ll probably retire him."

The Elkwood field includes Corporate Jungle, winner of the Grade 3, one-mile Appleton in his stakes debut March 3, and Monument Hill, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Corporate Jungle in the Appleton and second last time out in the one-mile Henry Clark at Pimlico.