06/15/2011 1:49PM

Monmouth Park: Soda Pop Kid makes first start for Hills off claim


OCEANPORT, N.J. – Tim Hills sends out one of the newest members of the stable when Soda Pop Kid makes his 41st career start Friday at Monmouth Park.

The 6-year-old gelding was claimed last time out on May 28 for $32,000 from trainer Bruce Levine. He is back in for the same tag in a $52,000, second-level optional claimer, the feature event of the 11-race card.

Soda Pop Kid is an honest sort who is always in the mix. He is 10-11-6 with earnings of $386,630, more than double the bankroll of any of his six rivals in the six-furlong race.

“He’s a classy old horse that fit right into the barn,” Hills said. “With older horses like that, you don’t train them real hard. You just keep them happy. He came to me in good shape.”

And he arrived in good form.

Soda Pop Kid was a solid closing second following a freshening of just more than two months. He came on to nab the place spot behind Partyallnightlong, an up-and-coming New Jersey-bred.

“The horse that beat him is a pretty nice horse.” Hills said. “I thought that was a real strong second. I didn’t think he’d get anything at the top of the stretch, but he just kept coming at them. He just shows up and runs.”

MONMOUTH PARK: Live video for every race day of the 2011 meet »

Mike Luzzi has the return call from post No. 3. The new owners have extensive journalistic backgrounds. The Write Stuff Stable includes turf writers Tom Pedulla, Bob Ehalt, and former USA Today football columnist Gordon Forbes.

Soda Pop Kid registered a 90 Beyer Speed Figure in the last race. A repeat performance in that range would put him right in the mix.

Best last-race Beyer honors go to Blue Notion, an eight-length winner of a first-level allowance at Penn National with a career-best 94 Beyer.

Angel Serpa, aboard for the 4-year-old gelding’s last four races in Pennsylvania, has the mount for trainer Louis Linder Jr.

Morethanatale has won two in a row against claimers for owner-trainer Amy Tarrant. He takes a step up from the $25,000 tag most recently.

Fordangshore makes the third start of his comeback, after missing more than a year of action. He was a driving winner in his return, a first-level victory at Pimlico for trainer and co-owner Michael Trombetta.

Most recently, he ran fifth in the race in which Soda Pop Kid was claimed.