06/30/2011 2:40PM

Monmouth Park: United Nations Stakes draws international cast

Ryan Denver/Equi-Photo
Chinchon, from France, is the defending U.N. champion.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – This time, the United Nations Stakes truly lives up to its name.

The premier turf event of the Monmouth Park season drew an intriguing international lineup Saturday. The Grade 1, $750,000 stakes at 1 3/8 miles attracted a field of 10 that includes runners bred in Ireland, France, and Chile. There’s even a New Jersey-bred in the lineup, General Perfect, to boot.

BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Race schedule and past winners »

The United Nations tops a 12-race card that also features the Grade 3, $200,000 Salvator Mile. First post is 12:50 p.m.

The U.N. is a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In challenge race. The winner secures an automatic berth in the $3 million BC Turf in November at Churchill Downs.

That incentive helped lure a diverse set of runners, including two from France – Chinchon and Stacelita.

Chinchon is the defending U.N. champion, returning in search of his first victory since last year’s renewal. A 6-year-old bred in Ireland, Chinchon will reunite with Garrett Gomez, who was aboard for last year’s U.N. victory.

Stacelita, bred and raced primarily in France, is one of the more interesting runners in the field. A 5-year-old mare, Stacelita is a three-time Group 1 winner in France.

“She is very good,” said trainer Patrick Biancone, who will try to beat her with his entry of Pulsion and Belle Watling. “At 3, she was the best 3-year-old in the country. At 4, she was very, very good.”

Stacelita will be making her second start of the season, having run third last month in a Group 3 stakes at Longchamp.

Joe Bravo, one of the leading local turf riders, will be aboard.

Among the domestic runners, Bourbon Bay and Teaks North are the leading contenders.

Bourbon Bay arrives from California for trainer Neil Drysdale. A 5-year-old gelding, Bourbon Bay has won four graded stakes at distances ranging from 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 miles, so stamina should not be an issue.

He finished 11th this spring in the Dubai Sheema Classic and was third most recently in the Grade 1 Charlie Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Alan Garcia gets the mount.

Teaks North, a perfect 3 for 3 over the Monmouth turf, faces his biggest challenge in his bid for a second Grade 1 victory this year. He won the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February and captured the Monmouth Stakes, the U.N. prep, in his latest outing.

Justin Sallusto, his trainer, believes the U.N. boils down to Teaks North versus Bourbon Bay.

“That’s the way it looks on paper to me,” Sallusto said. “The foreign horses don’t look like they’re in form.”

A major concern for Teaks North is a lack of experience at the distance. A 4-year-old gelding, he has never run beyond 1 1/8 miles.

Sallusto feels his horse has learned how to settle and rate this season, an important consideration when stretching out.

“My horse will run all day,” Sallusto said. “It’s all about the ride. He’s matured and improved in every race.”

Unlike many of his U.N. rivals, Teaks North doesn’t have to travel from his stall at Monmouth.

“There is nothing like walking over from the barn,” Sallusto said. “It’s a big edge, avoiding those planes and those vans. Definitely, horses lose a little bit.”

Belle Watling lost quite a bit since her U.S. arrival over the winter. A sensation in her native Chile, Belle Watling is winless in four tries since transferring to Biancone’s care.

“She’s training very well,” Biancone said. “She’s been here six months, and it takes that long to acclimatize. She’s changed dramatically in the last two weeks. Now, she has to perform and live up to her reputation.”

Biancone entered Pulsion as a rabbit to ensure a reasonable pace for his mare to track.

Eldaafer, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner on dirt; Sleepless Knight, and Bold Hawk complete the field.

Salvator Mile: Morning Line returns

Morning Line, who missed the Metropolitan Handicap with a foot issue, makes his comeback in the Salvator. It will be his first start since winning the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct on April 9.

The Salvator reunites the first three finishers from the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope at Gulfstream in January – Soaring Empire, Rule, and Morning Line.

“Funny how they’ve all come back here from the Hal’s Hope,” said Cam Gambolati, Soaring Empire’s trainer. “The big question for my horse will be the two-turn mile. It’s his home course, and he’s won twice here.”

Soaring Empire will be looking to rebound from a seventh-place finish in the Met Mile in which he lost both back shoes.