09/30/2011 2:44PM

Monmouth Park: Sabercat looks strong in Garden State Stakes

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OCEANPORT, N.J. – The mighty Secretariat closed out his 2-year-old season with a victory in the Garden State Stakes at the defunct Garden State Park.

The $75,000 juvenile event returns Sunday at Monmouth Park with six entrants, none of whom could be branded a superstar at this point.

All six have won a single race. It could be a compact gathering as two runners, Angel’s Tune and Clip the Coupons, were cross-entered in Sunday’s $150,000 Nashua Stakes at Belmont Park.

The discussion begins with Sabercat, a maiden winner here last time out while posting a 76 Beyer Speed Figure, heading into the one mile, 70-yard stakes.

The victory was the culmination of a three-race learning curve. Sabercat debuted at Churchill Downs for trainer Steve Asmussen, picking up a third and a fourth in sprints. He switched to the turf at Saratoga for his third start and was not a factor. Back on the main track, going one mile, Sabercat put it all together for a pressured pacesetting win.

Trainer Pat McBurney hopes the added distance helps Slammin’ Slew, a debut winner here going 5 1/2 furlongs back in mid August with Carlos Marquez, Jr. aboard. Slammin’ Slew got off to a terrible start, spotting the field 15 lengths before kicking in for a drawing-away victory.

“He kind of slammed into the side of the gate at the break and found himself a pretty good ways behind the field,” McBurney said. “He bounced out of the race pretty good. Carlos thought he banged his head more than anything. It looked to him like the horse was shaking his head for a sixteenth of a mile down the backside. We checked him out, and there were no signs of cuts or nicks on him.”

Now, he gets a chance to show what he can do with more ground. An allowance race going short did not fill, so Slammin’ Slew makes his second start in a stakes.

“He might not be as fit as we’d like, but he’s kind of a long-legged, light-bodied horse,” McBurney said. “We’re hoping he’s tight enough, and we’ll see what he does with the two turns.”

Yes He Did and Purely Determined complete the field.

◗ It’s now official: Monmouth will add three Fridays (Oct. 14, 21, and 28) to the schedule to replace weather cancellations over the summer.