08/10/2012 3:52PM

Monmouth Park: Small Town Talk sets sights on Iselin Stakes

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David Owens/Equi-Photo
Chamberlain Bridge is being pointed to the Grade 3, $350,000 Turf Monster at Parx Racing.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – The early portion of Small Town Talk’s career was a series of stops and starts, with some encouraging efforts sprinkled among the gaps.

The 4-year-old colt finally settled into a productive, consistent groove this season with a transfer to the Chuck Simon barn at Monmouth Park.

His first start here was a close third after a layoff of more than three months. A pair of allowance wins then propelled him into the Majestic Light Stakes on the Haskell Day undercard, where he responded with a very solid third.

Based on that progression, Small Town Talk’s next target is the Grade 3 Iselin Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 18.

Right now, the Iselin looks like a Majestic Light rematch with Gourmet Dinner and Ponzi Scheme, the 1-2 finishers, also expected back by stakes coordinator Dan Dufford.

The rest of the Iselin lineup remains in flux.

Small Town Talk has been a pleasant project for Simon.

“I looked at his record, and he had a lot of stopping and going,” Simon said. “He’s had some issues, mostly his feet. They also sent me his sister, and they have the same bad foot, the left front, but we got it fixed up.”

Given the colt’s history, Simon had limited expectations, especially when Small Town Talk turned in a very slow work before his debut for the new barn.

“If you don’t ask him in the morning, he’ll work a half mile in 53,” Simon said. “You watch his races, and he wants to be up on pace. He’s kind of a peculiar horse. So he was probably a little short in that first race for us, but he’s trained great since then.”

After the two allowance wins, the discussion on the table was the Majestic Light versus a three-other-than allowance. With so many handicap races in the region, Simon figured the Majestic Light would not be overwhelming.

“I thought he ran really well, considering he got stuck in the outside post with speed to his inside,” Simon said. “He kept running right to the end, even though he got a little bit stopped there.”

Now comes the Iselin.

“The distance should play in our favor, and we’ll still be low weight in the race and the horse is training great here,” Simon said. “The horse is sharp. If we draw a better post position, with a little different setup, he definitely has a shot.”

Chamberlain Bridge targeting Turf Monster

Chamberlain Bridge came out of his win in Monmouth’s My Frenchman Stakes last weekend in good shape, according to trainer Bret Calhoun.

The 8-year-old gelding will now aim for the Grade 3, $350,000 Turf Monster at Parx Racing, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In stakes on Sept. 3.

Chamberlain Bridge, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, has Calhoun thinking big once again.

“We were hoping to find a spot where he could run well,” Calhoun said. “He was able to dominate a group and get his confidence up. It wasn’t too hard on him, and I think we got everything we wanted out of that race.”

The My Frenchman was only the third win in 13 races for Chamberlain Bridge since the Breeders’ Cup triumph.

“As an 8-year-old, he’s lost some of his consistency,” Calhoun said. “He’s happy right now, and he’s been very sound.”