09/01/2012 4:58PM

Monmouth Park: Tune Me In scores again, winning Cliff Hanger

Email
Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Tune Me In, with Paco Lopez aboard, wins the Cliff Hanger.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Tune Me In scored a second straight Grade 3 upset at Monmouth Park, beating 6-5 favorite Salto by one length on Saturday in the $99,000 Cliff Hanger on the turf.

A snowy-gray 5-year-old gelding, Tune Me In pulled a 25-1 upset in the Oceanport on the Haskell Day undercard.

This time, the price was a still generous 6-1.

As in the Oceanport, Tune Me In and Get Serious, a five-time graded stakes winner at Monmouth, waged an early battle. While the pace was much quicker over a far firmer course in the Cliff Hanger than in the Oceanport, the outcome was the same. Tune Me In won the early battle, and ultimately the war.

Racing on the fence, Tune Me In cut the corner sharply and sprinted clear. Salto, the trailer for most of the race, angled to the far outside and took dead aim at the leader. But Tune Me In just kept going, converting trainer Bruce Alexander into a believer.

"He had to convince me," Alexander said. "He's a really good horse. He took a little time to go through his conditions. When we added blinkers last year, it made an improvement. Did I think he was at this level? No. He had to prove it to me, too."

That skepticism kept Alexander away from the betting windows.

"I didn't bet him last time and I didn't bet him today," Alexander said. "I rooted like crazy, but he still had to convince me."

Paco Lopez was aboard for an upset sweep of both Monmouth stakes. He earlier guided Say a Novena to victory in the Miss Woodford Stakes.

Salto, making his third start in the U.S., held second by a head over Get Serious who made a mild late run in the final stages. Lentenor was fourth followed by Upgrade.

Tune Me In paid $15.40 to win, running the one mile in 1:33.96. Admiral Perry and Glass Art were scratched, reducing the field to five.

Miss Woodford: Say a Novena wins battle

Say a Novena battled back along the rail to beat Singlet by a half-length in the $60,000 Miss Woodford Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Say a Novena and Singlet hooked up in a spirited duel right from the start, and Singlet appeared to have won the battle when she edged clear turning for home. Say a Novena had something left. Urged on by Lopez, Say a Novena came on again for her fourth win in 13 starts. Three of those victories have come at Monmouth, including the Colleen Stakes last year.

The Miss Woodford was her first start since running sixth in the Grade 3 Azalea at Calder in early July.

"I've always had confidence in her, but I might not have done the best job placing her," said trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. "Off a layoff, we ran in the Miss Preakness Stakes which was very, very tough, and then we tried her on the turf, which she didn't like. Then I shipped her down to Calder. With the shipping and the different climate and different surface, I don't think it gave her a fair opportunity."

Given time to regroup at Monmouth, Say a Novena bounced back with her first win since the Brandywine Stakes at Parx Racing last October.

Say a Novena paid $22.80. The time was 1:10.04 for the six furlongs on the fast track.

Klondike Kate, the 2-1 favorite, finished third after moving into contention on the turn but could not sustain the bid. Salad Girl was fourth followed by Hot Roots, Sharp Sally and Scat's Lassie.