07/02/2011 12:22PM

Monmouth Park: Sean Avery shoots for another stakes score in Mr. Prospector

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Sean Avery earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 112 for his victory in the Longfellow last out.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – The margin kept widening, and the Beyer Speed Figure soared like a thermometer in the desert.

By the time he was done, Sean Avery had won the Longfellow Stakes last month by 11 3/4 lengths, earning a staggering 112 Beyer that eclipsed his previous best by 16 points.

“He wowed us all,” said trainer Allen Iwinski. “We knew he was doing very well, and we expected him to run well. No one expected him to do it the way that he did. He was doing that all on his own.”

So, what do you do for an encore? We’ll find out Monday as Sean Avery faces four rivals in the $75,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The Mr. Prospector and the $70,000 Choice Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf headline the 12-race holiday card that starts at 12:50 p.m.

Unbeaten in three starts this year following a layup of over a year with a strained tendon, Sean Avery will break from the rail with Joe Bravo. He will face Fabulous Strike, a career winner of over $1.4 million; Dabnabit, winner of the John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds; and the one-two finishers in this race last year, Roaring Lion and Wildcat Brief.

Iwinski acknowledges this will tougher than the Longfellow.

“The horses in here are much better than anybody we ran against last time,” Iwinski said. “Sean is going to have to run a big race. He can’t just go out there and have it his own way. Anytime a horse runs that big a race – and that was his lifetime best – all the theories about a bounce come into play. The horse is absolutely coming into this race on top of his game.”

Fabulous Strike, the winner of the 2007 Vosburgh, is also on the comeback trail this year. Now 8, he missed all of last year with a ligament strain that received stem cell treatment. He has run twice this year at Penn National, winning a money allowance in the first start back before finishing fifth most recently in the Changing Times Stakes.

Paco Lopez will be aboard for trainer Todd Beattie.

Roaring Lion will be making his first start of the year, and his debut for trainer Todd Pletcher, with Mike Luzzi up.

Wildcat Brief struggled in the mud most recently, finishing sixth in the Grade 2 True North Handicap at Belmont Park.

Choice: Crossed the Line loving turf

Trainer Justin Sallusto toyed with running Crossed the Line in the Long Branch Stakes on the dirt next weekend, the traditional prep for the $1 million Haskell. After the colt ran big in his turf debut last out, missing by only a half-length, the decision to run him back on grass in the Choice became clear.

“It was a tough race and we didn’t have the best of trips and it was his second start off a layoff,” Sallusto said. “It was a big effort and he came out of it good. I think he’s ready to run a top number.”

Crossed the Line, 1-1-1 in 5 starts, has the outside post in a field of eight going 1 1/8 miles.

Monzon returns to the turf after running ninth in the Belmont Stakes. His last victory came in the Count Fleet Stakes over Aqueduct’s inner track in January.

◗ The Monmouth stewards suspended trainer Tim Kelly 45 days and fined him $1,000 after Wild Doone tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid, after he ran fifth in the first race on June 5. The suspension is slated to start July 15.

◗ Chuckie Lopez won his 4,000th race aboard Duffy’s Tavern in the first race Saturday.