07/18/2013 3:21PM

Monmouth Park: Reporting Star seeks elusive second win in Jersey Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Vegas No Show, who has won two of 10 career starts, will be trying turf for the first time in Saturday's $60,000 Jersey Derby.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Since winning his debut last fall at Calder Race Course, Reporting Star has kept some very fast company. Unfortunately, they were all a step too fast for him.

Reporting Star has not run a poor race since his maiden victory, hitting the board in five of his subsequent seven starts, including four straight stakes. Most recently, he was second to Verrazano in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The quest for that elusive second win lands Reporting Star in the $60,000 Jersey Derby for 3-year-olds on turf on Saturday at Monmouth Park. He faces eight rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race, the easiest spot Reporting Star has encountered in some time. After chasing Grade 1 winner Verrazano, Reporting Star shifts from the main track back to grass, seemingly his preferred surface.

The sometimes-fractious gelding does not have to ship, running a second time at the track where he has trained all summer. Could that elusive second win be at hand?

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” trainer Kathleen O’Connell said by phone from Florida. “He’s been knocking at the door so much. That’s what we’re looking for, to get his confidence level back up.”

O’Connell’s New Jersey division has devoted a lot of energy to putting Reporting Star in a better frame of mind for this race.

“He was a little fractious in the paddock for the Pegasus, so we’ve really worked hard at schooling him,” O’Connell said. “They’ve been really nice about letting us come to the paddock before the first race. He’s much better behaved with the pony. I’m hoping if he goes into it with a more relaxed mind, on a surface that he excels on a little more than dirt, that we’ll have a good outcome.”

Angel Serpa has the return call on Reporting Star.

Shining Copper and Vegas No Show are two other prime contenders in the Jersey Derby.

Shining Copper gets class relief after setting the pace before finishing seventh in the Grade 3 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park last month.

Vegas No Show tries turf for the first time following a nose loss in a third-level allowance race at Delaware Park on July 4. His finest moment came in November, when he finished second to Violence in the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct.

Keep the Canoli shifts back to grass after a distant fifth behind Micromanage in Monmouth’s Long Branch Stakes on July 7. His lone previous turf try yielded a fifth-place effort in Monmouth’s Tyro Stakes last summer.